A sigh of relief: Guangdong Higher People's Court reduces record trademark damages award in its New Balance appeal judgment

On 23 June 2016, the Guangdong Higher People's Court handed down its long-awaited judgment in the New Balance/新百伦-case. In its judgment, the Court upheld the finding of trademark infringement by New Balance, but reduced the damages granted in first instance from RMB 98 million by nearly twenty-fold, to 'only' RMB 5 million (approximately USD 750,000). This judgment comes in the wake of the Castel judgment handed down by the Supreme People's Court, which reduced the damages granted by a lower court in a somewhat similar case of opportunistic trademark filing by a local Chinese entity. The New Balance judgment was long-awaited, because the damages that New Balance was ordered to pay in first instance were seen by many as excessive, and as a further incentive for trademark squatting in China.

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