Copying has become quite common in today’s times, and especially when a lower priced product or a small company imitates an expensive brand. However, a trademark infringement fight between two top most fashion brands is not something that we usually see.
Back in 2009, Gucci sued Guess for trademark infringement over the stylized initial “G”. The proceedings of the case started before the US district court in Manhattan on Thursday (5’th April 2012) after 3 years and is expected to remain in federal court for weeks. This lawsuit is the biggest fashion fight of its kind since Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent over his trademarked red soles. “Gucci” is a registered trademark since 1969 and the brand was first used in 1953. Guess has been accused of specifically ripping off four designs: Gucci’s green and red stripe; the interlocking “G” pattern; the square “G” and the brand name’s delicate script font. Gucci has been in apparel business for more than 40 years and extremely popular and one of the most luxurious brands all over the world. Here in this case, the plaintiff does not need to prove the well-known stature of the trademark and any kind of dilution of the trademark Gucci will affect its brand value.
Since Gucci is such an established name, it is fair to assume that people are likely to get confused over the logo “G”. When a prudent person looks at a product from both the two brands with their respective logo on it, it’s difficult to differentiate between the two. The most important argument and allegation in this case is that Guess has blatantly copied the shoe design from Gucci and here in this case Guess could be in trouble. There is a likelihood of confusion and dilution of the trade mark Gucci and it can be assumed that Guess has designed or copied the logo and design of Gucci to confuse the consumers.
However, the CEO of Guess Inc. claims that Gucci has taken too long to file a law suit. The counsel for Guess claimed that Gucci cannot claim infringement because the company “sat on its rights” for at least seven years before deciding to sue.
According to Bloomberg Business week reports, Gucci has claimed $124 million in damages for $221 million worth of Guess product infringements.
It’s a battle of two heavyweight designer luxury companies and it’s interesting to know that now companies are ready to spend millions of Dollar in litigation to protect their Trade Marks. It will be interesting to read the final outcome of the case and what the Hon’ble US court decides in this matter. Meanwhile, one can check the design of both the shoes and decide how much similarity is there.
Image Source: http://www.telegraph.uk
About the Author: Mr. Kumar Janmejay, Trade Mark Attorney at Khurana & Khurana and can be reached at: Kumar@khuranaandkhurana.com