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ARTS > Christie’s sues Chinese rival over similar name

LONDON

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This image shows the webpage of Chinese Chritrs Group, which has held auctions in Singapore and Hong Kong this year.

This image shows the webpage of Chinese Chritrs Group, which has held auctions in Singapore and Hong Kong this year.

Christie’s has sued a rival auction house with a similar name for infringing on its Chinese trademark after receiving evidence that its clients were being “misled and deceived.”

Hong Kong’s High Court heard that the Chritrs Group, which according to its website has held auctions in Singapore and Hong Kong this year, goes by a Chinese name that is pronounced in a similar way to Christie’s Chinese brand name. The written form also shares one of the Chinese characters used in the translation of Christie’s.

Christie’s told The Art Newspaper that it took matters of trademark infringement seriously and wanted to protect the public and its clients from deception. “We encourage clients and the public to exercise due diligence when selecting auction houses to work with,” the company said in a statement.

In print form

Lawyers acting on behalf of Chritrs argued that although the two company names were pronounced almost identically, the company’s marketing mainly took place in print form and not verbally, according to an account of the Oct. 4 hearing published by the South China Morning Post. They added that collectors of fine art were capable of distinguishing between the two auction houses. Chritrs has offices in Hong Kong, Taipei, London, Japan, Singapore, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The legal proceedings highlight one of the perils Western salerooms face as they expand in the lucrative Chinese market. In 2008, Sotheby’s won a similar case against a Chinese company called Sichuan Sufubi, a transliteration of Sotheby’s.

The date of judgment in the Christie’s case has yet to be announced.

November/16/2012

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