Christian Dior has lost an ongoing legal battle in Indonesia recently. The Paris-based design house has been battling Kimsan Purwo and Kiman Purwo, the owners of the trademark "Baby Dior" since discovering that the two individuals had registered the mark (in class 12, which extends to vehicles, predominantly bicycles) and were using it on their products in Indonesia, where Dior has numerous brick and mortar stores. Dior filed suit against the Purwo's, alleging that they were using the mark in bad faith, and when Dior's requests for the country's Commercial Court to cancel this mark were denied, the iconic design house's legal team took the case to the Indonesian Supreme Court. The high court ruled in the Purwo's favor late last month, holding that the Baby Dior trademark, which was reportedly inspired by a popular Indonesian saying, ‘Benar-benar Ada, Bagus, Yahud, Dia Itu Orang Riang," was not similar enough to Dior's mark to cause confusion amongst the public, as the classes of goods covered by the Purwo's mark differ from those marketed by Dior.
It seems that Dior may have dropped the ball in terms of Baby Dior (although requiring the design house to register its name in class 12 is a bit of a stretch, considering Dior is not in the bike business) and the Purwo's acted on that misstep. While the design house does, in fact, manufacture clothing for children and newborns under the name "Baby Dior," (and currently stock at Barneys, Luisa via Roma, and on their own e-commerce site), none of their 75 U.S. trademark registrations include one for Baby Dior. As for whether the Purwo's use of the "Baby Dior" mark is legitimate or merely a way to bank on the established appeal of the Dior name, your guess is as good as mine. But given Dior's presence in the Indonesian market, I would guess this was a calculated move and not one that is uncommon for designers to experience in international markets. The take away from this case? Companies should not rely solely on the reputation or goodwill of its trademarks to ward off competitors or potential infringers in non-U.S. countries. To prevent such occurrences, register your trademark whenever and wherever possible.