China fines firms for using BMW-like trademark: media

The BMW logo is seen on the wheel of a vehicle presented at the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing, China, April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - RTSF8U6

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A court in Shanghai ordered two Chinese firms and the founder of one of them to pay automaker BMW BMWG.DE 3 million yuan ($431,617.41) for registering trademarks similar to that of the German firm, the Shanghai Daily reported on Tuesday.

The ruling is the latest win for a large foreign firm in China, a sign that courts are taking trademark infringement more seriously in a country dogged with fakes of everything from clothing brands to entire shops.

Zhou Leqin, one of the accused, registered Deguo Baoma Group (Int’l) Holdings Limited, which translates as German BMW Group (Int’l) Holdings Limited, in China in 2008, the paper reported the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court as saying.

With the company, Zhou then bought and registered the trademark “BMN,” with a logo similar to BMW’s, it added.

BMW, Deguo Baoma Group, Chuangjia and Zhou Leqin could not be immediately reached for comment.

Fashion firm Chuangjia, the second firm fined, then used the trademark on products including clothes, shoes and bags, changing the logo over the years to more closely resemble BMW’s.

The accused infringed BMW’s trademarks registered in China by taking advantage of its reputation, the paper reported the court saying.

In early December, China’s highest court ruled in favor of basketball star Michael Jordan in a long-running trademark case relating to a local sportswear firm using the Chinese version of his name, overturning earlier rulings against the athlete.

Reporting by Engen Tham; Editing by Stephen Coates