Lotus Bakeries wins lawsuits against copycats
Below is the official statement of Lotus Bakeries:
Lotus Winning Intellectual Property Rights Lawsuits
Since it foundation in 1932, the Belgium-based company Lotus Bakeries NV ("LOTUS") has engaged in the production and sales of biscuits and pastries. Its caramelized biscuit has been reputed as a very delicious food in Belgium and was exhibited at the 2010 (Shanghai) World Expo as the representative commodity of the Belgian Pavilion. It has been very popular with Chinese consumers. LOTUS attaches great importance to protecting its intellectual property rights all over the world, including China, and it has had registered many trademarks to cover a great variety of goods, such as biscuits and caramel biscuits.
With the rising popularity of its caramelized biscuits, in recent years LOTUS has found that many companies in China and elsewhere have infringed upon its exclusive trademark rights by profiting from LOTUS' reputation through and copying and imitating its famous commodities' trade dress. In order to protect its legitimate interests, LOTUS brought a trademark rights infringement and unfair competition action to Shanghai Xuhui District People's Court against Shanghai LiLa Food Co., Ltd ("LiLa"), Dongguan Weimeng Food Co., Ltd. ("Weimeng") and Youla Branch ("Youla Branch") in May 2014 and obtained favorable appeal judgments in 2017.
Shanghai Xuhui District People's Court held that LOTUS's uniquely designed caramelized biscuit package can be identified as the famous commodity's unique dress as it has distinctive features to distinguish it from other commodities' trade dress and serves to identify the source of commodity with great popularity in China because of long-term sales and promotion; as a rival of LOTUS, LiLa and Weimeng and Youla Branch should have been aware of this, however, they made use of similar trade dress on their respective commodities to highlight the alleged "Belgium flavor". It is clear that they all had the intention of taking advantage of LOTUS's good will to seek illegally profits, and constituted the unfair competition of using a famous commodity's unique trade dress without authorization. Furthermore, LiLa and Weimeng's use of a mark similar to the trademark exclusively owned by LOTUS on commodities easily caused relevant consumers to mistake the source of commodity.
Therefore, in November 2016, the People's Court ruled that Lila and Weimeng should immediately stop their infringement upon LOTUS's exclusive trademark rights, stop using LOTUS's unique package and trade dress for its famous commodities, and to compensate LOTUS for economic losses and reasonable expenses in an amount of CNY 395,770. In June 2017, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Rights Court ruled upon hearing that the first-instance judgments had ascertained the facts and properly applied laws, therefore the petition filed by Lila and Weimeng were rejected and the first-instance judgments were affirmed.
These cases show that China's People's Courts have paid great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights. These judgments encourage LOTUS to continue protecting its intellectual property rights in China and firmly fighting against trademark infringement and unfair competition in China.