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Lacoste Wins Trademark Infringement Lawsuit in China

The defendant Nanji E-Commerce and its affiliated companies were ordered to cease the infringing activities in China and pay $2.05 million to Lacoste as compensation.

Lacoste Wins Trademark Infringement Lawsuit in China

Lacoste store in Shanghai.

LONDON — Lacoste has won a trademark infringement lawsuit against Cartelo, an apparel brand operated by Nanji E-Commerce, in China.

The ruling by the Beijing Higher People’s Court earlier this year determined that Lacoste’s crocodile trademark, which looks toward the right, had already achieved well-known status as early as 2006, while Cartelo’s use of the crocodile trademark, which looks to the left, had clear intentions of malice and had already caused market confusion, and therefore constituted the infringement upon the legitimate rights and interests of the trademark owned by Lacoste.

It’s understood that this judgment is a final decision, effective immediately upon issuance.

As a result, Nanji E-Commerce and its affiliated companies were ordered to cease the infringing activities in China and pay $2.05 million to Lacoste as compensation.

In a statement sent to WWD, the brand said it welcomed the judgment, adding that “it not only effectively protected the legitimate rights and interests of Lacoste but also demonstrated the firm determination of Chinese judicial authorities to protect intellectual property rights.”

“The Lacoste brand has deeply rooted itself in the Chinese market and has been favorably received by Chinese consumers as one of the first international apparel brands to enter the Chinese market in the 1980s,” the brand reiterated.

Lacoste Wins Trademark Infringement Lawsuit in China

Screenshots of Cartelo’s Tmall flagship.

However, it appears that the final court ruling has had little impact on Cartelo’s business operation so far. The brand is still selling items with crocodile logos on its Tmall flagship store, which has more than 678,000 followers. A logo polo shirt from the brand is priced at 149 renminbi, or $20. In comparison, a classic Lacoste polo shirt cost $110.

Trademark disputes between Lacoste and Cartelo, and the Hong Kong-based brand Crocodile — as its name suggests, also claim to own the right to use crocodile as its logo — have been going on for decades in Asia.

In 1983, Lacoste and Cartelo reached a settlement agreeing to cooperate and coexist in five markets: Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, and Lacoste offered to compensate the money Cartelo had spent on protecting and defending the crocodile trademark. However, since the settlement did not include mainland China, the dispute continued until now.