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Beijing IP Court Denies Infringement Claims of RIMOWA in Suitcase Decoration Dispute

Recently, Beijing IP Court made a final judgment on a suitcase decoration dispute between RIMOWA GmbH, a Germany- based company, and a person surnamed Duan, denying all of claims of RIMOWA.

Kofferfabrik Paul Morszeck, the predecessor company of RIMOWA specialized in manufacturing suitcases, was established in Cologne, Germany in 1898 and changed its name to RIMOWA in 1941, manufacturing suitcases designed with grooved stripes and a combination of five unique decoration design elements including cornerite, metal strip, rivet and locked groove.

In 2014, RIMOWA found that the suitcases sold by Duan, a person from China, copied its products in overall silver appearance and multiple design details. RIMOWA sued at Beijing Dongcheng District People's Court on the grounds that Duan infringed its unique decoration right and breached unfair competition rules, requesting the court to order Duan to stop selling the alleged infringing products, publish a statement and remove ill effects and indemnify 150,000 yuan in damages and 50,000 yuan in reasonable costs.

Duan argued that the suitcases manufactured by RIMOWA do not belong to well- known goods and its elevatedgrooves design is not unique. The evidence RIMOWA provided cannot prove that its suitcases are famous in China and familiar to the relevant public. In addition, RIMOWA's suitcases cannot play a role in distinguishing the source of goods. Therefore, the suitcases sold by her cannot cause confusion among the relevant public.

Dongcheng Court held that the decoration of both RIMOWA's and Duan's suitcases' are comprised of the five design elements of the elevated- grooves design and there are some similar features. In addition, RIMOWA's suitcases are well-known in China and familiar to the relevant public, belonging to the famous goods provided in the Chinese Anti- Unfair Competition Law. There exists competition between RIMOWA and Duan. Accordingly, Dongcheng Court made a first- instance judgment, ordering an injunction, 70,000 yuan in damages and reasonable costs.

Duan then brought the case to Beijing IP Court.

After hearing, Beijing IP Court held that the relevant public will not relate the decoration of suitcases with certain product providers. On top of that, it cannot be determined that Duan sold the alleged suitcases in bad faith nor be proved that the act of Duan constituted unfair competition. Besides, the evidence cannot prove the suitcases manufactured by RIMOWA are well- known among the relevant public. In the connection, Beijing IP Court revoked the first- instance judgement and denied all of claims of RIMOWA.

Source: China IP News

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