In addition to teaming up with some major fashion names over the past several years (think: Missoni, Versace, etc.), Havaianas has been policing its trademarks quite a bit, filing suits in an array of different courts. The Brazilian footwear brand, which was founded in the late 1950's and stocks worldwide, is known for its rubber flip flops that bear its graphic trademark - a pattern that adorns the soles of the sandals to resemble the straw soles of Japanese sandals. Sao Paulo Alpargatas, the company that owns the Havaianas intellectual property, has international trademark rights in its portfolio and has been policing those trademarks. (It federally registered its name in 1962).
The most recent ruling for the brand comes by way of the Paris Court of Appeals, which held that the brand's trademark, is, in fact, valid, despite the lower court's ruling to the contrary. Earlier this month, the court held that the trademarked Havaianas pattern, which is "composed of two symmetrical sequences of geometrical figures in the form of an elongated S," is "readily identifiable" as a source indicator of the sandal company by a significant portion of the consuming public. As such, the court held that the trademark is both "distinctive" and valid. The court further held that the defendant, Too Beach, a French wholesaler, had infringed that mark, and must pay damages and immediately and permanently cease sales of the infringing sandals.
Shortly thereafter, an Italian court ruled in Havaianas favor in a separate trademark infringement suit. The Court of Turin held that Torino, Italy-based, Asian Trade S.r.L, had infringed Havaianas's trademark with its own trademark, Hav@na Cuba, which was registered in Italy. In addition to utilizing the confusingly similar word mark, Asian Trade was also reportedly selling nearly identical sandals to those for which Havaianas is famous. The court found that Asian Trade was operating in violation of the Italian anti-unfair competition law. According to Article 2598 of the Italian Civil Code, unfair competition consists of "(i) the use of names or trademarks that may cause confusion with those of a competitor, (ii) the appropriation of a competitor’s values, and (iii) the direct or indirect use of business methods which may cause damage to a competitor, (iv) etc." This statute also establishes trademark and copyright infringement as acts of unfair competition. As a result of the ruling, Asian Trade must pay $125,000 in damages to Havaianas and cease sales of the flip flops.
From the sounds of things, there will be more lawsuit to come …