Puma finally wins trademark infringement case

Macau’s Court of Final Appeal has ruled in favour of German sportswear and shoe manufacturer Puma in a case of trademark infringement.

Its decision ends a five-year tussle between Puma and Chinese shoe manufacturer Lingbao, which was using a brand logo that Puma claimed was too similar to its own logo: a leopard jumping to the left. Lingbao’s logo also features a leopard, leaping to the right.

According to the verdict, although both logos constituted what the law designates as “mixed logos” (combining an image with a name), the name in the Lingbao logo is not big enough to clearly be different.

Accordingly, the court ruled there is a risk customers will be confused when facing a choice of the two similar brands on similar goods.

The court’s decision revokes previous understandings of Macao Economic Services (DSE) and the city’s two lower courts.

The roots of the litigation go back to January 30, 2012, when Lingbao filed an application with DSE to register a brand. DSE accepted the application.

Puma later filed a formal complaint with DSE, claiming the visual similarities between the two logos had hurt Puma’s brand. The complaint was rejected.

The German manufacturer then challenged DSE’s stance in the Court of First Appeal, which in July 2015 ruled in favour of Lingbao. Puma took the case to the Court of Second Appeal, which in June last year found there was no basis for the plea.

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