A Chinese Court found in favor of New Balance for copyright infringement on August 22, 2017. The court awarded the American shoe company $1.5 million in damages, the largest award ever given to a foreign intellectual property (IP) holder in Chinese court.
Traditionally, foreign IP holders have not fared well in China. Chinese courts often turned a blind eye towards foreign intellectual property claims, dealing losses to Apple, Pfizer, and many others. By some estimates, IP theft by Chinese companies is as high as $600 billion to date. The mechanism used to steal IP of American and foreign companies is through the granting of trademarks by Chinese officials to whoever files it first. Many foreign companies were too slow to the draw and find themselves being denied the IP they developed over many years in the Chinese markets. Some commentators have said that Chinese courts often sought to protect local stability and employment by allowing a Chinese company to steal IP.
However, China is making strides to be more inviting to foreign businesses by cracking down on IP infringement. In July, President Xi Jinping vowed to punish intellectual property infringers. This case is far from the norm, but perhaps it is a sign of things to come.