Tag: Europe

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Influencers and Digital Advertising
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Snap! Marks and Spencer Tied Up In a Legal Dispute With Lacoste Over Its Iconic Trade Mark Crocodile Logo
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Fashion Law Update – November 2021 edition
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“All Aboard” As Guerlain Departs From the Norm: The General Court of the EU Finds Distinctive Character in Boat Hull Shaped Lipstick Packaging
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Riding On Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights
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Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats
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Louis Vuitton playing chess or checkers? The CJEU annuls’ the invalidation of Louis Vuitton’s EU trade mark

Influencers and Digital Advertising

Over the past decade, influence marketing has changed the way advertising is handled by companies. Influencers have entered the marketing world by leveraging massive followings on social media platforms, and brands have recognised the value of the new category of advertising professionals.

Even though the use of influencers has become a mainstay of advertising, French legislation has yet to meet this evolution, resulting in an often opaque legal framework.

The broad spread-out provisions applicable to influencers also generate difficulties in understanding influencers legal status, in particular when they are underage. This notably raises the question whether influencers are employees of the brands they advertise for—and therefore subject to labor law—or if they should be considered independent contractors, with their relationship with brands subject to commercial legislation.

Such opaque legal framework raises questions about the applicable regime, as well as the legal status of influencers. Even though there is no specific regime for influencers, recent legislation was adopted in order to protect children influencers (see our previous alert here).

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Snap! Marks and Spencer Tied Up In a Legal Dispute With Lacoste Over Its Iconic Trade Mark Crocodile Logo

After recently suing Aldi over allegations of intellectual property infringement based on its Colin the Caterpillar cake and Christmas glitter gin, Marks & Spencer (M&S) now faces a “liti-gator” itself as it has recently been sued by Lacoste for allegedly infringing its crocodile logo (shown below) and related rights on a number of clothing and household products.

The Allegations
We set out below a representation a selection of the alleging infringing products the subject of the complaint.

Lacoste, the luxury sportswear brand, wrote to M&S last year demanding that it cease advertising and selling various goods bearing crocodile logos or signs. M&S refused and now Lacoste is seeking an injunction on M&S and damages (among other things).

The Lacoste brand, which is named after the well-known tennis player René Lacoste who was nicknamed “the Crocodile,” has existed since 1933. As such, it has an extensive reputation worldwide and has ownership of a number of UK trade mark registrations, dating back to 1984. Lacoste is arguing that by using similar versions of its crocodile logo, which has built up a considerable reputation by the brand, M&S are not only creating a likelihood of confusion between the brands, but importantly, are taking advantage of the Lacoste mark.

What is interesting about Lacoste’s claims is that although the brand only owns trade mark registrations in the UK for the word CROCODILE and various representations of its logo, they are claiming that M&S’ use of different crocodile signs on products and the use of the word CROCODILE in relation to those goods constitutes trade mark infringement and passing off. These allegations are particularly interesting since M&S’ feature varying depictions of crocodiles. The claim is also in relation to a number of products sold by M&S that feature Roald Dahl’s crocodile character from The Enormous Crocodile, whose image would be licenced to M&S to use (shown below).

What’s to Come?
Whilst M&S is yet to file its defence in the proceedings, statements from the brand indicate that it is likely that they will argue that their products merely feature depictions of real life animals and are not an infringement of Lacoste’s rights.

However, whatever the outcome of this case (if it is not settled in the meantime), it will be interesting to monitor it as the decision could have important lessons for trade mark owners and third parties on the scope of protection granted over not just their trade mark, but similar marks.

Reference: Lacoste, Lacoste E-Commerce and Lacoste UK Limited v Marks and Spencer P.L.C. (IL-2021-000093)

By Simon Casinader and Kira Green

Fashion Law Update – November 2021 edition

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life

Bill Cunningham

In this edition of Fashion Law, we look at the emerging and evolving trends within the retail, luxury goods and fashion sectors post COVID-19 around the world.

In this edition, we focus on a few themes which include:

  • Navigating a fashion brand’s transition to direct to consumer
  • Important updates for brands selling goods in Europe
  • Managing supply chain risk – the U.S. perspective
  • Consumer Law in Australia
  • What’s happening in fashion intellectual property?
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“All Aboard” As Guerlain Departs From the Norm: The General Court of the EU Finds Distinctive Character in Boat Hull Shaped Lipstick Packaging

In what will be welcomed by innovative design brands, on 14 July 2021, the General Court of the EU handed down a decision annulling the EUIPO and Board of Appeal’s decisions that a mark filed by Guerlain lacked distinctive character. This decision emphasises that a distinctiveness assessment of a three-dimensional mark must be undertaken by reference to the specifics of common practice in the market for the relevant products.

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Riding On Coat-tails, Doesn’t Come Free: UK High Court Awards Additional Damages for Oh Polly’s Flagrant Infringement of House of CB’s Unregistered Design Rights

On 24 February 2021, the UK High Court found that a number of Oh Polly dress designs had infringed the unregistered design rights of its competitor, House of CB. This recent decision confirms the risk of additional damages being awarded if infringers flagrantly copy third party designs, whilst also confirming the difficulties brand owners face in bringing passing off actions based solely on copycat designs.

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Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats

On 19 November 2020, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) in the UK handed down its judgment in the case of Freddy SPA v Hugz Clothing Ltd & Ors [2020] EWHC 3032, which ran for an unusually long time for the IPEC (three days).

The decision was a rare occurrence of a passing off claim, together with other IP causes of action, succeeding in the get-up of a functional item, being “bum enhancing jeans”. Ordinarily, such cases, particularly with respect to fashion items, fail as the get-up is seen as merely design elements or ornamental, or the circumstances of the use lead to a conclusion that other trade marks (e.g. brand names and logos) dominate consumer perception.

This case could embolden brand owners in relation to enforcement of the look and feel of their clothing as it creates the possibility of confusion ‘post-sale’ in addition to the point of sale.

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Louis Vuitton playing chess or checkers? The CJEU annuls’ the invalidation of Louis Vuitton’s EU trade mark

Louis Vuitton received a favorable decision from the EU General Court (General Court) in June 2020 which may assist brand owners seeking IP protection of their decorative patterns. The decision confirms the distinctive character an EU trade mark must possess in order to benefit from protection throughout the EU as well as highlighting how patterns may be protected through registration as a trade mark rather than under other forms of IP protection such as copyright or design protection. However, the decision also reaffirmed the EU’s strict approach to assessing the unitary character of EU trade marks, which potentially sets a high bar for applicants to clear.

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