Fashionable fight over SHANGHAI STORY brand

Silk scarves are fashion’s ultimate blend of warmth, practicality, and elegance. At the heart of China’s scarf scene is “SHANGHAI STORY” (“上海故事”), one of the country’s most iconic scarf brands. Founded in 2003 by Yang Qiuliang(杨求良), this brand specializes in sumptuous silk scarves and accessories produced by his own company Shanghai Story Silk Development Co., Ltd. (上海故事丝绸发展有限公司)


The Shanghai Story of Yang Qiuliang

Yang Qiuliang’s journey began humbly after graduating university in the 1970s and taking a banking job in his hometown Guizhou. But the entrepreneurial spark was lit during a trip to Shanghai, where he was dazzled by silk scarves worn by fashionable ladies.

Inspired, Yang Qiuliang quit his job to launch “SHANGHAI STORY” – a pioneering concept at the time, bringing silk scarves out from behind department store counters to their own buzzy retail spaces. His daring move paid off; within two years, “SHANGHAI STORY” had expanded to over 20 locations, rapidly becoming a sensation in Shanghai’s fashion circles. Today, it owns nearly 100 franchise stores across 40 Chinese cities.

The name of this brand was Yang Qiuliang ‘s personal ode to the city. “SHANGHAI STORY” pays tribute to Shanghai’s captivating histories and sartorial narratives through its signature, story-inspired scarf patterns.

But brand-building proved painstaking work. Yang Qiuliang recognized early on that brand operation was key, committing to fusing Chinese silk heritage with contemporary commercial appeal. This forward-thinking approach also invited lengthy trademark disputes.


Modern Shanghai Silk Small Square Scarf (image from SHANGHAI STORY’s official website)

The Trademark Turbulence

When Yang Qiuliang first sought to trademark his brand, he hit a snag – the name contained the city “Shanghai,” which was initially deemed ineligible. It wasn’t until 2009, when Yang learned geographical names could represent cultural identities, that he resumed the arduous registration process. Finally, in 2015, was officially trademarked.

The trademark of Shanghai Story Silk Development Co., Ltd. #10087133, filled on 20/10/2011

During this period, numerous distributors freely operated under the “SHANGHAI STORY” name. Shanghai Story Silk Development Co., Ltd. (上海故事丝绸发展有限公司) founded by Yang Quliang had a dispute with Hangzhou Lingjueding Clothing Co., Ltd. (杭州绫绝顶服饰有限公司) over the trademark.

The trademark applied for by Hangzhou Lingjueding Clothing Co., Ltd, #12676248, filled on 30/05/2013

Yang Qiuliang alleged Hangzhou Lingjueding Clothing company’s trademark was a misleading attempt to confuse consumers. What’s more, he argued one of the Lingjueding’s shareholders had previously worked at his Shanghai Story Silk company. Chen Deyong (陈德勇), the legal representative of Lingjueding counter-argument that his brand “STORY OF shanghai” (“上海故事”) was launched in year 2002, which is prior to Yang Qiuliang’s one and was independently conceived without bad faith. However he  failed to provide evidence of that in front of China Trademark Office (CNIPA) which examined case.

Story was even more complicated. Yang Qiuliang owned also the company Shanghai Ziqi Clothing Co., Ltd. (上海紫琦服饰有限公司), which is also a the stakeholder of Shanghai Story Silk Development Co., Ltd. Shanghai Ziti Closing Co. Ltd. signed on August 18th, 2006 franchise agreement with Chen Deyong’s relative – Chen Miaozhu (陈妙珠) to operate franchise store in Shanghai. Just 38 days later, Chen Deyong’s rent a storefront next to his family relative’s store. Such situation happened several times. Since locations of Chen Deyong’s “STORY OF shanghai” store were so close to “SHANGHAI STORY” franchised sites, consumers were obviously misled. Therefore, it can be inferred that although Chen Deyong declared that he was operating his own brand “STORY OF shanghai” , not directly but he actually was a distributor of  “SHANGHAI STORY”. This was a circumstance that the China Trademark Office took into account when assessing the trademark dispute.

In the end, Chen Deyong’s “STORY OF Shanghai” trademark was invalidated. Yang Qiuliang’s “SHANGHAI STORY” was vindicated, named one of Shanghai’s officially protected “Shanghai Excellent Trademark” in a hard-earned triumph.



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