Dunhill vs. Danhuoli or How to Secure Your Logo in China

On October 10, British luxury label Alfred Dunhill—which specializes in menswear, leather goods, and accessories—won its trademark infringement lawsuit against Chinese brand Danhuoli. Dunhill filed and ordered the lawsuit in China where the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong Province found the Chinese menswear label guilty of trademark infringement and unfair competition practices.

Previously, Danhuoli registered their name under a shadow company in Hong Kong called “Dunhill Group” and has opened over 200 franchise stores in 61 cities across China, including one in 2017 in a Xi’an department store owned by one of the country’s biggest luxury labels SKP. In the below images, it’s obvious that the infringing Danhuoli logo looks similar to Dunhill’s original thin, black, and elongated logo font.

Dunhill's logo (left), and Danhulio's logo (right). Jing Daily illustration.

Dunhill’s logo (left), and Danhuoli’s logo (right). Jing Daily illustration.

The court awarded $1.47 million (RMB 10 million) in compensation to Dunhill in the case. According to a press statement sent by Dunhill to Jing Daily, this case is a “landmark victory in China for all global brands” and proves that the Chinese courts have made important progress in protecting intellectual property in the country.

“Today’s ruling demonstrates Alfred Dunhill Ltd.’s unequivocal resolve in tackling infringement of our IP rights in China and globally,” said Andrew Maag, CEO of Alfred Dunhill. “Our system of IP management and enforcement is second to none. With the support of Rouse and Lusheng Law Firm, we’ve secured a fair and proportionate ruling.”

Infringement in China is on the rise, according to an August post on China Law Blog, because desperate Chinese companies are finding legal loopholes by filing trademarks with shadow companies. Many of these cases are difficult to win for infringed-upon companies that aren’t aggressively protecting their logos because of China’s first-to-file rule, which states that whoever files the trademark first, owns it. Fortunately, Dunhill was not one of those companies.

“This win for Alfred Dunhill is just reward for all their hard work protecting their brand in China,” said Luke Minford, Global CEO of Rouse, whose firm represented Dunhill in the case. “The decision should reinforce to other brand owners that China is finally getting serious about protecting foreign brands.”

Dunhill belongs to the Switzerland-based luxury holding corporation Richemont and has operated in the mainland China market for over 20 years. In 2000, the China State Administration for Industry and Commerce put the brand on the “List of National Trademark Protection.”

The brand has proactively fought for its trademark protection for years. Dunhill had filed trademark infringement lawsuits in Beijing, Wuxi, and Guangzhou prior to this case. The brand now has 19 boutique stores in 10 major cities in China, which includes their most recently opened store at the Xi’an SKP department store, inaugurated this past September.