In an precedent case at the end of 2015, a chinese online vendor selling genuine Avène products claimed to be an official Avène website. The Changsha Intermedia People’s Court found that an act of unfair competition based on Article 2 of the Anti-unfair Competition Law.
In 2014 Pierre Fabre, owner of the registered trademark EAU THERMALE AVÈNE, initiated a civil lawsuit on the grounds of trademark infringement and unfair competition, requesting cessation of the infringement, indemnification for the damages caused and a public apology.
On October 2015 the court rendered its judgement and ordered the owner of the website, Changsha Hui Ji E-commerce Co, Ltd., to cease all acts of unfair competition immediately and pay RMB 40,000 to Pierre Fabre in compensation for its economic loss. The court argued that the prominent use of Pierre Fabre’s registered trademark and the website’s self-identification as “Avène’s official website in China” and “Avène’s online mall in China” were likely to lead the public to believe that its online mall was operated or licensed by Pierre Fabre, thus giving it unfair competition advantages. Therefore Changsha Hui Ji was found to have violated the business ethics and good-faith principles outlined in Article 2 of the Anti-unfair Competition Law.
This case – which was listed in the Supreme People’s Court’s top-50 exemplary IP cases for 2015 – serves as a reference for distinguishing between fair and unfair use of trademarks.