Carrefour sues Chinese supermarket chain over name

Updated: 2010-08-24 17:40
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HEFEI - What? Already 160 Carrefour stores in that city? The Paris-based supermarket giant was left in wide-eyed astonishment when it conducted market research and location assessment in Fuyang city, East China's Anhui province.

Carrefour SA has filed a lawsuit against Anhui Jiale Supermarket Chain Co Ltd and its subsidiaries in Fuyang, claiming they had violated the rule of fair competition and infringed upon the Carrefour trademark.

The local supermarket chain Jiale company was accused of illegally using the logo "Jialefu," the Chinese version of "Carrefour" in their company name and business activities.

The Hefei Intermediate People's Court has accepted the lawsuit. The court hearing, which was started on Aug 18, is still under way.

Carrefour claims that the supermarkets under Jiale Company's use of a blue logo similar to that of Carrefour, on their shop signs, price tags, receipts, and shopping bags, is very likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of the supermarkets.

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The French retailer has requested the court to order Jiale Company to change its logo and pay Carrefour 6 million yuan ($882,164) in compensation.

Jiale, established in 2002, was registered as "Anhui Fuyang Jialefu Business and Commerce Co, Ltd" initially. The company changed its name from "Jialefu" to "Jiale" in August 2009.

To date, Jiale had opened more than 160 supermarkets under its name in Fuyang City, most of which are scattered around in nearby towns and countryside.

Jiale claims it had not infringed on Carrefour's trademark since the company had already changed its name from "Jialefu" to "Jiale" before the lawsuit was filed.

Jiale also says that Carrefour's Chinese logo "Jialefu" literally means "happy family" in Chinese, and it lacks the identifying features of a distinctive trademark.