EU General Court confirms invalidity of two Louis Vuitton chequerboard pattern trade marks

The EU General Court has confirmed that two figurative Community Trade Marks (CTMs) for chequerboard patterns had been invalidly registered due to a lack of distinctive character and having failed to acquire distinctive character through use.

This was confirmed in two separate Board of Appeal decisions – Louis Vuitton Malletier v OHIM, Case T-359/12 and Louis Vuitton Malletier v OHIM, Case T-360/12, 21 April 2015

The CTMs represented a brown and beige chequerboard pattern and a light and dark grey chequerboard pattern, both with a weft and warp structure.

Louis Vuitton is known for its fight against counterfeiting and trademark infringement. One example of when they have been successful is in a case against Ebay where Louis Vuitton won the right up to 12 years to decide and select the distribution channels of its products within Europe. The recent loss has to some extent been criticised in terms of the Board’s findings that the applicant had not filed sufficient evidence of use and only a few EU-states rather than the whole market was taken into consideration here.

The chequerboard pattern (le damier) has been around since 1888 and has been one of the most significant patterns within Louis Vuitton’s history. Those two decisions might very well have consequences for other similar CTMs within the same class and other businesses who try to protect their handcraft from counterfeiting.

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The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

© Miller Rosenfalck LLP, May 2015

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