Ritz-Carlton wins trademark infringement case against Rits Fitness

The Shanghai Second Intermediate People's Court has ruled in favour of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in trademark infringement proceedings against two Chinese subsidiaries of Shanghai Rits Fitness Co Ltd (April 21 2008).
Ritz-Carlton, the well-known global hotel chain, holds registrations for the trademark RITZ in China for services including hotels, restaurants, bars and beauty salons. Rits Fitness provides sauna, spa and massage services. It uses the mark RITS - alone or in combination with a device - on its business logo and on towels, slippers, bathrobes and other items used in its shops.
In March 2008 Ritz-Carlton filed suit against Rits Fitness for trademark infringement. The case was heard by the Shanghai Second Intermediate People's Court on April 7 2008.
Rits Fitness argued that:
  • its associated company, Xiamen Rits Entertainment Co Ltd, had started using the trademark RITS (and design) in 2000 and thus had prior rights in the mark;
  • the services covered by the trademarks RITZ and RITS were different; and
  • Rits Fitness catered to different customers.
The court held that Ritz-Carlton had registered the international mark LERITZ in 1993, before Xiamen Rits's first use of the RITS mark. The court also found that the services covered by the trademarks RITZ and RITS were similar. Therefore, the court concluded that the RITZ mark had been infringed.
The court ordered that Rits Fitness pay damages of Rmb200,000 (approximately $28,571) to Ritz-Carlton.
Jin Ling, Rouse & Co International, Shanghai

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