Shanghaiist is sure that this announcement will come as a relief to all of you misplaced upturned-collar-polo-shirt-wearing frat boys who swear by the Lacoste crocodile: a Shanghai appeals court has ruled that the French company will not have to pay that creativity-challenged Singaporean company, Crocodile, $1 and a public apology. So ends — for now, at least — an epic court battle over crocodile-use rights (involving an irritatingly petty punishment), only for the issue to be thrown over the wall to be decided by relevant trademark law. Shanghaiist doesn’t really understand why this wasn’t originally a trademark law issue. Apparently, any real decision, like which company actually gets to keep its crocodile in the Chinese market, has yet to be determined.
Reportedly this particular row started when the two companies suddenly became aware of one another’s mirror-like presence in Shanghai in 2002, and Crocodile sued Lacoste. The two companies have been going at it for decades throughout Asia over their twin logos. But Shanghaiist finds the entire Shanghai-based case rather baffling for several reasons. Lacoste — whose namesake René Lacoste, a famous 1920s French tennis player, was nicknamed “Le Crocodile” — has been a registered company in China since 1980, and Crocodile since 1993. Why didn’t Lacoste throw a fit back then when Crocodile first came to China with a virtually identical but inverted crocodile logo? Shanghaiist knows that even the largest international companies are clueless when it comes to China … but that certainly doesn’t mean we feel sorry for them. Shanghaiist is still wondering how Crocodile ended up with such a suspiciously similar, but left-facing, crocodile logo when the company established itself approximately 15 years after Lacoste was incorporated with its right-facing logo. On its website, Crocodile claims its logo “is chosen for its symbolism — strength, persistence and easy identification.”
May the best crocodile win. But if Shanghaiist begins to spot any double-layered, flipped-popped-collar-polo-shirt-wearing in the city, we will start looking into getting all polo shirts, with or without crocodile logos facing left, right or any other direction, banned from China.
How to spot Lacoste fakes (eBay forums)
Crocodile tears end logo fight (CNN)
Firms snap over crocodile logo (BBC)
Lacoste loses its shirt in China (BBC)