Chanel loses court battle in trademark dispute with Huawei

The European General Court observed that Huawei’s logo is notably different from Chanel’s insignia.

Fashion label Chanel lost its trademark battle with Huawei Technologies in a top European court over its iconic logo on Wednesday. The court held that the logos “share some similarities but their visual differences are significant.”

The dispute – In 2017, Huawei Technologies had applied for trademark protection at the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for a logo they would use for computer hardware. The logo features two vertical interlocking semi circles within a circle.

French fashion label Chanel argued that the logo resembled their iconic insignia which features two vertical intertwining semicircles used for its cosmetics, costume jewellery, perfumes, leather goods and clothing.

In 2019, the EU Intellectual Property Office dismissed Chanel’s objection saying that the logos were not similar and the public would not be confused by the two.

The court battle – Chanel then challenged the ruling at the General Court, which dismissed the appeal and retained EUIPO’s decision.

“The figurative marks at issue are not similar. The marks must be compared as applied and registered, without altering their orientation,” the tribunal judges said.

“In particular, Chanel’s marks have more rounded curves, thicker lines and a horizontal orientation, whereas the orientation of the Huawei’s mark is vertical. Consequently, the General Court concludes that the marks are different,” it said.

The supporters of Huawei from China took to their social media handles and called Chanel “pengci” – a Chinese slang which means to deliberately pose as a victim in hope of receiving compensation.

“It’s classic pengci,” said an online user. “You cannot look at one logo and think of the other.”

Another Weibo user, the Chinese Twitter-like service said, “Chanel’s sign is horizontal, Huawei’s is vertical, that’s such an obvious difference, even my three-year-old niece knows. If you want to pick a fight with Huawei, just say so!”

Caught during the US-China trade war amid the Trump administration, Huawei faced a series of restrictions worldwide. According to experts, these geo-political events turned the tide in favor of Huawei which got reflected in its 2020 annual revenue growth. Compared to 2019, Huawei’s revenue grew by 3.8 percent in 2020.

In a similar trademark infringement case in 2017, the European Union’s General Court had ruled in favor of Chanel against Li Jing Zhou, a Spanish Chinese jewelry wholesaler.

The trademark dispute underlines how established brands guard their logos to protect their identities.

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