The Bane of Burberry

What Happened: Burberry is riding high. Today, it showed its Fall 21 menswear collection at London Fashion Week after being granted a preliminary injunction against Xinboli Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd, the owner of the Chinese brand Baneberry. In an unusual move, the court in the eastern Chinese city Suzhou accelerated this injunction, even though the trial is still underway.

The court said that since both companies are selling through similar channels, Baneberry, which now owns at least 40 physical stores, is lowering Burberry’s market share and “weakening the distinctiveness and recognizability of its well-known trademark.” The Chinese company has registered trademarks for a similar logo to Burberry’s and the associated font. It also makes use of check patterns, which is a widely-known staple of Burberry’s design heritage.

The court found that Xinboli had likely infringed when Baneberry declared that it “originated in Jermyn Street, England” and marketed its “British lattice” pattern. Photo: Weibo

Jing Take: The fact that an interim ruling has already been announced is a rare, bold move by the Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court for Trademark Infringement — one that sends out the message that the country is attempting to clamp down on counterfeits. And, given China’s nebulous reputation when it comes to fake goods and trademarks, this is precisely what the luxury fashion industry needs to see.

Earlier in the year, Shanghai Huangpu District Court ordered Chinese sportswear company New Barlun Co. Ltd and Shanghai Shiyi Trade Co. Ltd to pay damages of $3.85 million to New Balance. In May 2020, Supreme finally secured its trademark in China after a lengthy legal battle — another high-profile win for a foreign company operating on the Mainland.

One can surmise from this action that Burberry is on track for a victory, which would further demonstrate China’s commitment to creating a sophisticated IP system that matches global standards. And not soon enough.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.


Fashion, Market Analysis