Louis Vuitton loses battle to keep chequered design trade marks

17 August 2015

The EU’s General Court has issued two parallel decisions finding that Community Trade Mark (CTM) registrations for the two square pattern devices shown below, owned by Louis Vuitton, are not sufficiently distinctive to be capable of registration as trade marks, either inherently or as a result of the use made of them by Louis Vuitton, so must be cancelled. 

LV

In the case originally brought in 2009 by the German company Nanu-Nana, Louis Vuitton has long argued that the patterns, registered in 1998 and 2008, have been extensively used and are strongly associated with its brand, so should be allowed to stay on the register.

In the judgement, the General Court agreed with earlier Board of Appeal decisions and stated that the pattern shown in the registrations is a ‘basic and banal figurative feature composed of very simple elements’ that is not inherently capable of distinguishing the trade origin of goods.

Although Louis Vuitton had filed evidence to show that it had used the marks on a substantial scale in a number of EU countries, the Court held that the evidence did not show the marks had acquired a distinctive character in Denmark, Portugal, Finland or Sweden. As a result, the marks could not be considered to have distinctive character ‘throughout the whole European Union’ and the CTM registrations must therefore be declared invalid.

Louis Vuitton has appealed both decisions up to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Further information about the decisions can be found here: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=163833&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=356407

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=163834&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=356407

Michael Conway

Michael Conway

Associate Partner

Our Expert
Michael Conway
Michael Conway
Location: Bristol (UK)

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