Dior wins long running China dispute over J'Adore

Published: 9-May-2018

The luxury brand's application for trademark recognition was initially rejected in the country in 2015

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China’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of French beauty brand Christian Dior in a long-running trademark dispute over the bottle design for its J’Adore fragrance.

Dior introduced the perfume in 1999 in a teardrop-shaped bottle designed by engineer-turned-artist Hervé Van Der Straeten.

The design, with its stacked gold neck reminiscent of Masai necklaces, is trademarked with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the US Patent and Trademark Office.

However, the trademark was not recognised in China.

Dior applied for trademark recognition in the country but in July 2015, the China Trademark Office rejected the application, saying the bottle’s shape and design did not meet "the standards of a trademark”.

Dior appealed to the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, but counsel for the Board Sun Mingjuan successfully argued that the bottle “should be regarded as a common container for liquors” and that it had “no obvious specificity”.

Dior then appealed to the Supreme Court. “The perfume has grown popular among consumers after it came into Chinese market in 1999,” argued Dior’s counsel, Li Fengxian.

“Many consumers could easily recognise it as one of Dior's perfumes through the bottle's appearance.”

The Supreme Court agreed and has also ordered the China Trademark Office to review Dior’s trademark application.

The verdict has been seen by observers as a “significant indicator” that China is showing a willingness to align with international laws on intellectual property.

The US has recently threatened the country with billions of dollars in tariffs, partly to discourage what it sees as the theft of US intellectual property.

Dior occasionally issues J’Adore in limited-edition bottles tweaked by leading designers such as Delphine de Causans and Victoire de Castellane, when it can cost as much as $3,500 for 50ml.

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