Court's Successful Mediation on Puma's Trademark Disputes

With the respondents willing to pay for compensation and the plaintiff withdraw the case, Wuhan Intermediate People's Court recently successfully mediated the trademark disputes between Puma and over 30 vendors in Hanzheng Street together with the venue rental company Wuhan Sanjiang Economic Development Co., Ltd. Finally, they reached the agreement that the vendors cease sales of counterfeit goods and compensate Puma over 0.3 million yuan.

Vendors are sued due to infringement

Hanzheng Street, located in the downtown area of Hankou district in Wuhan City, is renowned since ancient times. The street now becomes a well-known distribution center for brand commodities at home and abroad. However, IP infringement gradually arises in recent years, which casts an ugly shadow over the commercial street with a long history.

Several months ago, Puma found that the marks of some products sold by some vendors in Hanzheng Street were quite similar to its own trademark "PUMA", and some of the marks were even as same as its. Subsequently, Puma required some notaries to preserve the evidence on the scene, sent a lawyer's letter to over 30 vendors together with the venue rental company Wuhan Sanjiang Economic Development Co., Ltd, and asked them to cease infringement. After unsuccessful negotiations, Puma sued them for the sales of infringing products in Wuhan Intermediate People's Court at the end of December, 2012, and asked them to pay nearly 2 million yuan for damage. 

"Four-step" strategy is developed in mediation

"Via dialogue with both parties, the vendors agreed to cease sales of counterfeit goods and compensate Puma for the loss," Wei Dahai, a presiding judge of the IP court of Wuhan Intermediate People's Court, said to a journalist in China IP News, "Now both parties are quite satisfied with the result."

According to Wei Dahai, individual business accounts for half of the trademark infringement disputes in recent years. Usually, these cases, whose number is huge with wide range, are hard to tackle due to the right-holders' high expectation and the infringers' poor education, lack of awareness of law, strong resentment as well as low affordability. To mediate these cases and relieve the pressure of the trial, Wuhan Intermediate People's Court actively worked out a "four-step" strategy and got good results.

The "four-step" strategy is known as following. Firstly, to listen patiently and eliminate the antagonism of both sides, which creates a good atmosphere for the next mediation. Secondly, to show a positive attitude and clarify the misunderstanding between the two parties, which lays a solid foundation for mediation. Thirdly, to narrow the gap of both sides' expectations in order to achieve successful mediation and professional guide. Fourthly, to give suggestions and make both parties satisfied. Hence, cases are concluded more reasonably and quickly with this strategy, through which judges should probe deeply into the case and communications with both parties are strengthened.

"Up to now, Wuhan Intermediate People's Court has handled nearly 300 trademark infringement cases filed by Puma, which greatly reduced the number of fake goods in Wuhan market," said Wei Dahai. According to him, the defendants involving in the nearly 400 trademark infringement cases that Wuhan Intermediate People's Court heard in 2012 were mostly individual business, whose business operating capacity was quite limited. Hence, the court often determines the amount of compensation after considering their economic condition and corresponding affordability. Nowadays, there are a large number of cases that end in mediation in Wuhan Intermediate People's Court every year. Not only were satisfactory results achieved, the court also saved much time through mediation. 

(China IP News)