Image: Louis Vuitton

While U.S. President Donald Trump is busy imposing additional tariffs on Chinese goods in the nations’ ongoing trade war centering on Chinese treatment of U.S. intellectual property, Louis Vuitton is taking steps of its own to address some of the widespread issues it faces connection with its Chinese entities’ infringement of its rights. The Paris-based brand filed suit against two subsidiaries of China’s shoe giant, Belle International, late last week, asserting infringement in connection with its Arclight sneakers.

According to Louis Vuitton’s complaint, which was filed in an intellectual property court in Hong Kong, Belle International and Best Able Footwear are selling footwear that replicates notable elements of its popular Arclight sneakers. The brand asserts that consumers have come to associate the Arclight design – which was introduced by Louis Vuitton’s womenswear director Nicolas Ghesquiere on the runway in October 2017 – with its brand, thereby, giving rise to legal protection.

Louis Vuitton’s sneaker (Left) & Belle’s version (right)

More than that, the brand asserts in its suit that it maintains  “substantial and distinctive reputation and goodwill” in connection with the $1,090 sneakers in China and across the globe, making the defendants’ lower-quality copycat versions particularly harmful.

As first reported by SCMP, the defendants first began selling the lookalike footwear – complete with $1,140 price tags – in July 2014, with the knowledge that they “were infringing copies of the Louis Vuitton trainers,” Louis Vuitton asserts. The brand is seeking injunctive relief to immediately and permanently bar Belle International and Best Able Footwear from selling the allegedly infringing footwear, as well as monetary damages of a sum to be determined at trial.

Funny enough, the suit comes years after Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton made headlines for its plan to buy $30 million worth of initial public offering shares in China’s Belle International Holdings, which listed in Hong Kong in May 2007, in furtherance of a push to raise up to $1.1 billion to add about 1,000 outlets per year in China.