26 Jul 2022
After a 22-year legal battle, the British luxury footwear company won a ruling from the Chinese Supreme Court confirming that the brand trademark “Manolo Blahnik” is actually the property of the UK based company.
The legal battle ensued in 2000 when a Chinese businessman, Fang Yuzhou, registered a trademark “Manolo & Blahnik” at the patent office effectively making him owner of this brand name. This is because in China, there exists a “first to file” trademark registration system. As he registered first, Mr Fang owned the brand name “pirated” from the British firm.
A two-decade legal battle was declared with the UK company’s appeals being rejected since it could not prove to the satisfaction of the patent office that it had a commercial reputation in China.
Nevertheless, having persevered and used all the legal instances to reach the final decision of the Chinese Supreme Court, the UK Manolo Blahnik won the right to use the brand name/trademark in China.
“It was a huge hole in our existence,” Kristina Blahnik, CEO of the brand and niecer of the founder, told the Financial Times. Blahnik said the company’s plans for the Chinese market are still in the early stages. But she hopes to start selling directly to the People’s Republic by the second half of next year.