Local brand is ordered to pay damages to Burberry

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Local brand is ordered to pay damages to Burberry

A Seoul district court ordered underwear manufacturer Ssang Bang Wool to pay punitive damages for infringing upon the trademark rights of the Burberry fashion house, which is based in the United Kingdom.

The decision came after Burberry filed a lawsuit in March against the local underwear brand for using the British company’s signature plaid pattern on their products.

The ruling, which was announced Thursday by the Seoul Central District Court, requires Ssang Bang Wool to pay 10 million won (about $9,000) in compensatory damages to Burberry and bans it from using the design.

According to the presiding judge, “Both patterns used by Burberry and Ssang Bang Wool have red and black lines on a beige base. For ordinary consumers, the look and impression of the products can be seen as almost identical.

“Additionally, while Ssang Bang Wool made underwear products with the same pattern, it made its brand tag so small that consumers might not have recognized it.”

In March, Burberry claimed that Ssang Bang Wool pirated its original plaid pattern for its TRY line of men’s underwear, and initially wanted 100 million won in compensation.

The court also made it clear that the iconic plaid pattern could be considered part of Burberry’s trademark.

“Burberry, one of the world’s most renowned fashion brands, entered Korea in 1986. It is popular among local consumers, with annual sales of 70 billion won in 2000,” the court said in a statement.

“The signature pattern of the brand is more of a trademark than a mere design, because the pattern represents that the products were made by Burberry.”

Five months before it sued Ssang Bang Wool, Burberry filed a lawsuit against LG Fashion’s DAKS brand for using the same plaid pattern on its shirts.

The case was settled out of court, with LG Fashion shelling out 30 million won.

The British fashion house has also waged legal battles with Chinese bag manufacturers.

Other foreign luxury brands continue to keep a close eye on local retailers. In January, the fashion brand Longchamp won its case against the local retail company AI International.

The Seoul High Court ruled that AI International infringed upon the design rights of Longchamp’s Le Pliage bag.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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