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Burberry moves to protect iconic tartan in China

Thursday, 28 Nov 2013 | 3:48 AM ET

SHANGHAI, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Burberry Group Plc has appealed a decision by Chinese authorities to cancel trademark protection for the British trenchcoat maker's iconic tartan pattern, the British company said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

China is one of Burberry's top markets, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for 37 percent of revenues in 2013. However, an economic slowdown in the country and an anti-luxury campaign have hit sales of high-end products.

China's Trademark Office recently pulled patent protection for the camel, red and black check tartan on Burberry's leather goods, although the change will not come into affect until the appeal is heard, the company said.

The cancellation of the trademark, which would otherwise have run until 2020, was because Burberry has not made use of the specific tartan pattern in China for three years, according to information on the Trademark Office website.

The website gave no further details.

"The Burberry Check remains a registered trademark exclusively owned by Burberry and no other parties can use the mark without Burberry's proper authorisation," the company said.

"Burberry always takes the strongest possible action against those who use its trademarks unlawfully... We are confident that our appeal will be successful."

If the decision is upheld it would open the door for local rivals to make use of Burberry's signature pattern, although the impact may be muted because of widespread imitation products already available on China's black market.

Burberry's signature tartan has become so closely linked with the firm that Scotland now regards it as a "corporate tartan", according to the country's tartan register.

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