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Business

Italian clothier Moncler wins trademark lawsuit in China

GENEVA -- Luxury down jacket maker Moncler has won a court case against a Beijing apparel company accused of selling products bearing the Italian brand's fake logo.

     The intellectual property court in the Chinese capital awarded Moncler damages totaling 3 million yuan ($470,100). In a statement, Moncler called the decision "groundbreaking," adding this is believed to be the first ruling granting maximum damages under China's new trademark protection system.

     China created the court specializing in intellectual property in November 2014 to shed its image as a counterfeit haven. Protecting foreign brands became a matter of necessity -- besides coming under pressure from abroad for the many counterfeit goods originating in the country, China needed to attract foreign capital.

     Moncler said it had confirmed in 2013 that the Beijing business was selling down jackets with the fake logo, attempting also to register trademarks and domain names in China and elsewhere. Moncler filed a complaint in December 2014 with the newly established court.

     Analysts were closely watching how the just-launched court would handle the case, as existing courts were often criticized for their lack of experts, a condition believed to have contributed to the many rulings sympathetic to local businesses.

     The Chinese government plans to tout the latest ruling as proof that its legal reforms have been making progress, but many foreign companies that have forayed into China are not convinced.

     China "does not have enough mechanisms to fundamentally prevent intellectual property violations," an official with a major Japanese automaker said. "Many trademarks are still being illicitly registered."

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