Winkler Partners lawyer wins Taiwan’s largest trademark award

Winkler Partners lawyer Christine Chen represented the Hermès Group before Taiwan’s new Intellectual Property Court in a successful trademark infringement action against a former saleswoman who sold fake Hermès bags to consumers in Taiwan. The Intellectual Property Court awarded Hermès NT$256 million (c. US$7.7 million) in damages, the largest award ever for trademark infringement in Taiwan.

The award was calculated by a provision in Taiwan’s Trademark Act that allows a trademark holder to sue for 500 to 1500 times the amount for which infringing products are sold. In the Hermès case, the former saleswoman sold fake bags for an average price of NT$512,500. The court imposed the minimum multiple of 500 times.

The award suggests the vigor with which the Intellectual Property Court, which began hearing cases in July of 2007, will protect the intellectual property rights of foreign rights holders and an increased willingness to make significant awards of damages.

Significant awards of damages by Taiwanese courts in recent years have included awards of NT$740 million and NT$240 million in separate cases against copyright infringers who sold pirated computer software. Music copyright holders led by a local record company were also successful in forcing a Taiwanese online music service to settle allegations of copyright infringement for NT$350 million. Nonetheless, the Hermès case establishes that foreign litigants in trademark infringements involving luxury goods can also receive significant awards.

The award was today’s front page story in Apple Daily, Taiwan’s largest circulation Chinese-language daily. It also received extensive coverage in the island’s electronic media due to strong consumer interest in luxury brands and the widespread problem of fakes.

For more information on the Hermès case or Winkler Partners’ IP practice, please contact Peter Dernbach.