An emerging British brand is hauling Versace into court, alleging that the Italian design titan copied its lion logo. According to a trademark infringement lawsuit that No Fixed Abode filed against Versace last month in the British High Court of Justice’s Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, its founder Emma Mann has been using the lion doorknocker logo on her brand’s wares since she launched the “luxury streetwear” in 2013 and despite alerting Versace to No Fixed Abode’s rights in the design last fall, the Donatella Versace-helmed house continued to use the design anyway.
No Fixed Abode – whose wares are stocked by over 300 retailers in the UK, the United States, Australia and New Zealand – alleges in its suit that Mann attempted to remedy the matter prior to filing suit by having her attorneys notify Versace of No Fixed Abode’s rights in the lion mark. However, the parties were unable to come to a resolution, particularly in light of what Mann calls “years of Versace's stalling tactics.”
As a result, and upon receiving a trademark registration from the European Union Trademark Office (“EUIPO”) for the mark for use on garments and accessories on January 30, 2018, Mann filed suit, claiming that Versace has used the logo on upwards of 220 different products from its main collection and its Versus Versace line.
Due to what No Fixed Abode claims is a “pattern” of copying by Versace, and not merely “a one-off case,” it is seeking injunctive relief, which would immediately and permanently prevent Versace from using the allegedly infringing lion design. The brand has also asked for an array of monetary damages in connection with Versace’s alleged unauthorized use of the mark.
According to Mann, “While No Fixed Abode is highly flattered that Versace chooses to keep its brand relevant by taking direct inspiration from an urban street wear label like our own, in the interests of copyright, ideas, style, and vision it seems the boundaries between inspiration have been blurred significantly.”
As for whether this will be an easy win for Mann and No Fixed Abode, it seems like it could require a bit of a fight. Unfortunately for No Fixed Abode, while it does maintain trademark rights in the lion doorknocker design, it arguably only enjoys those rights in connection with the “No Fixed Abode Individual Anarchism London” text below it, as identified in the trademark registration. With that in mind, Versace might be in the clear because while many of its garments and accessories have been adorned with lion doorknocker designs, none of them make use of the “No Fixed Abode Individual Anarchism London” text.
Stay tuned ...
* The case is No Fixed Abode London Ltd. v. Gianni Versace S.p.A. and Versace UK PLC, IP-2018-000012.