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Alibaba’s eCommerce Platforms Cleared of Infringement

24 May 2021

Spurious allegations of trade marks infringement and passing-off made by US direct sales giant Mary Kay were met with strong resistance from a team led by Winnie Tam SC (with Philips Wong, instructed by Deacons), resulting in the setting aside of service on T-Mall and Taobao out of the jurisdiction, with indemnity costs awarded against Mary Kay, the dismissal of the default judgment application against the non-responsive mainland direct sales agents upon the Court allowing T-Mall and Taobao to intervene to resist default judgment application against the absent defendants. The products were sold by the two traders on the mainland-targeted platforms for the mainland market, but were requested to be shipped to Hong Kong pursuant to trap orders placed by agents for Mary Kay. They were genuine products, but were alleged to have been “tampered with” by the removal from the packaging of the production lot codes to prevent tracing of their distribution channel.

The interesting judgment of Lok J covers important principles of trade mark law and civil procedure: