Updated: Nov. 27, 11:45 a.m.
China’s national trademark office reportedly revoked Burberry’s copyright on its iconic tan, black and red tartan last week after a long battle with a Chinese company that makes similar products.
The pattern, known as “Haymarket Check,” makes Burberry products distinctive in China, and helps keep the brand competitive against other luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Quartz reports. The recent decision, if true, means that anybody, including rival company Polo Santa Roberta, can make products with that pattern.
The Trademark Office said that the copyright expired because Burberry had not used the pattern in China for over three years, and a lawyer for Polo Santa Roberta said that the company was monopolizing a part of Scottish culture by trademarking the tartan.
The Scottish Register of Tartans, however, refers to that particular design as “Burberry.”
After publication of this article, a Burberry spokesperson said the company was appealing the decision, which was more limited in scope than original reports made it seem. The full statement from a Burberry spokesman is below:
As a global luxury brand, Burberry considers the protection of its trademarks vital to the health of its business and brand. The Burberry Check is a registered trademark of Burberry Ltd. along with the name ‘Burberry’ and the ‘Burberry Knight’ logo. Burberry protects both its brand and its customers by defending its intellectual property rights.
Burberry is appealing against a recent decision by the China Trade Mark Office in relation to the Burberry Check trademark, which relates only to leather goods. In the interim, there is no change to Burberry’s use or enforcement of its trademark across leather or any other products and we are confident that our appeal will be successful. The Burberry Check remains a registered trade mark exclusively owned by Burberry and no other parties can use the mark without Burberry’s proper authorisation. Burberry always takes the strongest possible action against those who use its trade marks unlawfully.
This post has been updated to include comment from Burberry.