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Harrods case story

Harrods of the U.K. has been the well-known brand symbolizing high grade fashion designs and the reliability. The exclusively authorized Harrods branded fashion stores have been operational across the globe from well-known gleamy fashion hubs such as London, Milan, Paris to NewYork. Together with the fame and prestige, Harrods has been the target for brand infringement behaviors in developing countries. Vietnam is a case.   D&N International is chosen and authorized by Harrods as its legal counsel in dealing with this piracy and we have suceeded in handling the infringement.
The facts
In May 2008 through internet and mass media, the Harrods Company Limited unveiled that one fashion store branded Harrods was operational in Hanoi without authorization of the Harrods. Even, it discovered that the infringing store run a separate website to advertise clothes of various kinds tagged Harrods and accompanied leather accessories on display inside the store.
The Harrods Company Limited reached conclusion that the the imitation of the brand for a fashion store was a serious infringement making a bad image of the Harrods stores chain across the globe.
Therefore, the Company chose and authorized the D&N International as its legal counsel to conduct investigations to know the degree of infringement of the store owner and then make requests to the infringer for an immediate stop on the violation. In case that the store owner would still continue the infringement, the D&N International that plays role as the Harrods’ legal counsel will have working sessions with relevant local authorities to settle the infringement via administrative procedures.
Proceedings
Gear-up investigations
D&N International initially used its research department to check all open source databases including media; then its  lawyers in the relevant area’s made physical checks of the entity to check its bona fides and to make a valued assessment.
Harrods branded fashion shop is found not yet to register for business operation at the relevant local authorities. This is a small fashion shop specialized in trading clothes and fashionable accessories such as sun-glasses, purse, leather bags, leather belt, shoes, sandals, wrist watches currently operating under a family management mode with its location based in the downtown of Hanoi capital, specifically at No. 57 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. The brand name and poster “Harrods” are so big and showy and easily recognized at the front of the fashion shop. By the end or beginning of every month, the store’s owner mobilizes money and converts the local currency into Chinese currency Renminbi and then they themselves transport to China for importing clothes for the fashion shop. Clothes on display inside the shop are at quite reasonable price tagged with Vietnamese local currency but the price is ranged between $20 and over $100 each up to different kinds of brands and designs. Marks are fixed on the clothes on display include famous brands such as Kenzo, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Celine, Pennyblack, Longchamp, Tods, Prada, ect. D&N International’s investigators discovered that most of clothes are attached with a separate tag of “Harrods” at front. Furthermore, the brand “Harrods” is also showed on the package materials and at some places inside the shop.
Dispatching cease and desist letter to infringer
Authorized by the Harrods Company Limited, D&N International prepared a cease & desist letter and dispatched to the store’s owners requesting them to immediately stop the infringement and sign commitments of undertaking. However, after a certain time we had received neither the signed letter of undertaking nor any response to our C&D letter from the shop owner.
We sent a staff to the Shop 57 to assess the developments of the matter and noticed that there were major changes from the store owners regarding both internal and external appearance of the store.
Specifically:
  • The brand name and poster “Harrods” that is so big, showy and easily recognized at the front of the fashion shop has been pulled down and disappeared. Instead, another brand name “BBGC Fashion Shop” has been put up in front. We attach few photos taken from outsite of the shop showing that the name of the shop has been changed to “BBGC” Fashion Shop.
  • D&N International’s staff also came inside to have thorough look over all clothes and leather accessories on display and realised that all supplementary tag named “Harrods” have been disappeared. No signs of Harrods have seen inside the shop as well.
Then, D&N International also checked the blog page of the Harrods Hanoi Fashion Store     and found no connection with notification from Yahoo: “Sorry, the page you requested was not found.”

It is confirmed that the cease and desist letter sent to the store owner has worked well with effective actions taken from the owners though they have not sent us any responses. Any visitors passing by the fashion store now will never see and think of any connection between the shop owners and Harrods.

Comment
  • This kind of business is quite profitable with the import of products in China at a cheap price and sale at a much higher price than the originally imported by affixing a famous brand on the goods.
  • The owner of the shop has deliberately infringed the client’s rights over the “Harrods” trademark in order to take advantages of the mark’s reputation and gain illegal profits.
  • Under the current law and practice of Vietnam, it is advisable for the client to prepare and send a cease-and-desist letter over to the infringer. In case that the infringer fails to comply with the client’s requests as clearly outlined in the cease-and-desist letter, relevant local authorities then will be required to take actions against the infringer in accordance with the prevailing laws of Vietnam.
16/12/2008