Trade Marks
Posted on 22/5/2015

Louis Vuitton faces fashion faux pas in Trade Mark battle

The designer brand’s checkerboard pattern was found to not be distinctive.

High-end designer Louis Vuitton has been refused the right to trade mark its Damier checkerboard pattern.

The European Union’s General Court upheld a previous ruling by the First Board of Appeal of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), denying the designer’s right to call the pattern its own, stating that it is too common for it to be owned by one brand.

The dispute on the checkerboard pattern began back in 2008 when Louis Vuitton originally registered the trade mark. The following year a popular German retailer filed an application to have it declared invalid, and that was granted in 2011.

OHIM rejected the trade mark application in 2011, based on the knowledge that the checkerboard pattern was a basic and banal feature, composed of very simple elements. They also stated that it was a well-known feature and had been commonly used with a decorative purpose in relation to various goods.

Following on from this, the Court said that the contested trade mark, lacked features capable of distinguishing it from other representations of checkerboards, and was not capable of fulfilling the essential ‘identification’ or ‘origin’ function of a trade mark.

With innovation rising, trade mark infringement in the fashion industry is charging down the runway this year, causing chaos backstage.

Louis Vuitton isn’t the only fashion house in frenzy, courts recently saw Adidas take on French shoe designer Isabel Marant for allegedly copying the Stan Smith trainer designs. Marc by Marc Jacobs is also dealing with a trade mark drama regarding a number of designs in their 14/15 autumn/winter collection.

The rise in infringement cases clarifies the importance of protecting intellectual property and it seems the fashionistas are becoming aware of the backlash they could face from competitors if they don’t have adequate protection and seek legal advice.

Louis Vuitton has not yet announced any plans to appeal the European Union’s General Court’s decision. However next season brings new designs which could leave other designers with a fashion faux pas.

To discuss the protection of your intellectual property, contact a patent or trade mark attorney at Wilson Gunn.

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