Luxury shoemaker Manolo Blahnik announced Tuesday they had won a 22-year legal battle in China over a trademark dispute, after the country’s top court ruled in its favour.
The dispute started when a competitor started calling itself ‘Manolo & Blahnik’ in 1999, a move approved by the Chinese authorities a year later.
The British company, named after the company’s founder and creative director, filed suit with the Chinese authorities in 2000.
Part of the problem, however, was that the Chinese system favours a first-come, first-served principle in the registering of trademarks.
The case has only now been resolved by the Supreme People’s Court of China.
“We are truly humbled and grateful for the support we have received in China and internationally, both from within the fashion industry and beyond,” said Spanish designer Blahnik in a company statement.
Blahnik’s creations are known the world over, especially after they were one of the luxury accessories featured in the hit television series “Sex and the City”.
The legal battle meant they were kept out of the potentially lucrative Chinese market for more than two decades.
“We look forward with excitement to joining its dynamic future by sharing Manolo’s story, creations and passions,” said Blahnik’s niece, company chief executive Kristina Blahnik.
“Manolo Blahnik will continue to vigorously protect its trademarks worldwide in the interests of my uncle Manolo, our customers and our business,” she added.
Several western groups have experience similar problems in China, discovering that when the tried to sell to that market a local firm had already set up a similarly sounding company.
In 2016, basketball mega-star Michael Jordan won part of his trademark suit against a China-based sportswear company, following a years-long struggle for control over the rights to his Chinese name.
The rival company had used a Chinese rendering of the athlete’s name widely known by the country’s consumers to break into the market.
In the same year, Disney won a copyright dispute over a Chinese knock-off of its animated movie Cars.