Louis Vuitton’s chequered pattern is under threat. The European General Court says the public sees the square design as ‘commonplace’, so it cannot be monopolised by Louis Vuitton.
Vuitton’s signature chequered squares are not distinctive enough to serve as a trademark, the European General Court has ruled, following a challenge from German retailer Nanu-Nana. Consequently, the company no longer has the exclusive right to the chequerboard pattern. The court has cancelled two community trademarks registered by Louis Vuitton for its leather products.
Louis Vuitton is one of the world’s most valuable brands, worth $22.500.000.000,-, according to consultancy firm Interbrand. Its first well-known dark brown and beige square pattern trademark was granted in 1998. Ten years later the fashion house’s filed the same pattern but in black and grey.
“This trademark loss is a double-blow to Louis Vuitton, who has been fighting to protect these marks since 2009″, Vuitton’s attorney said. “It can no longer claim to have a monopoly on the chequerboard pattern as applied to leather goods and bags, even if it was the first to come up with it. This loss might make it harder for the company to protect its bags against competitors or counterfeiters in the EU as it will no longer be able to rely on its trademark registrations.”
Commonplace or a pattern that has become distinctive, because it is so well known? Louis Vuitton will definitely appeal the decision until the highest European Court. To be continued…