Louis Vuitton, the world's most valuable luxury brand, has lost a trademark case following the EU General Court's cancellation of two Community trademarks registered by the company. Following a challenge by German retailer Nanu-Nana, both registrations were found to be invalid. The first registration covered the brand's Damier checkered pattern in a dark brown and beige variation and was granted registration in 1998. The second registration covered the same pattern but in black and grey and was registered in 2008. Both marks were registered for leather products and bags.
In the two decisions dated April 21, 2015, the General Court held that the registrations were "basic and banal", and lacked distinctive character. The court ultimately found that the checkerboard pattern of which the marks consist is a basic and commonplace figurative pattern, and that it did not differ from the norm or customs of the sector for leather goods and bags. The Court said that the public would perceive it as a commonplace and everyday pattern, and not as an indicator of source, which is the goal of trademark law. Louis Vuitton's counsel had argued that the pattern was complex, particular and original, but these arguments were dismissed by the Court.
“This trademark loss is a double-blow to Louis Vuitton, who has been fighting to protect these marks since 2009," said Sharon Daboul, trademark attorney at law firm EIP. "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."