The Gucci v. Guess battle is still under way in Italy. You may recall that the Italian design house filed suit against Guess in 2009, alleging that the Los Angeles-based brand copied an array of its trademarked logos as “part of a sophisticated and elaborate scheme to target Gucci and to create products that are similar in appearance to the most popular and best-known Gucci products.” We heard the last of that case last year, when Gucci was awarded only a small fraction of the damages it was hoping for (think: a mere $450,000). Around that same time, Gucci filed suit against Guess on the same grounds in a Milan court, and those proceedings have not made for smooth sailing either.
In May 2013, a Milan court ruled against Gucci, holding that Guess’s Quattro G-diamond pattern is not related to Gucci’s iconic interlocking “G” pattern. In an 83-page decision, the judge also declared that a number of Gucci’s trademarks, including its diamond-patterned G logo and Flora pattern trademarks, previously registered by Gucci in Italy and the European Union, were not valid, a ruling that Gucci subsequently appealed.
Well, as of this week, the Milan Court of Appeals has overturned the lower court’s decision, in part, holding that Guess has committed an act of unfair competition in accordance with the Italian Civil Code by copying a number of Gucci products. In particular, the Judge held that “Guess has willingly implemented certain measures to avoid a full overlap with the distinctive signs of its competitor, but from a global analysis it is clear that Guess’ aim was to imitate Gucci’s typical motifs, by devising conducts that are not unlawful, if considered per se, but become contrary to professional business fairness, if repeated overtime.”
This is not to say that the lower court’s ruling was fully overturned. Like the lower court, the Court of Appeals did take issue with a number of the Florence-based brand’s trademarks. Specifically, the court found that Gucci’s trademarks covering “the letter G with dots” and “the letter G with dots serially repeated” are, in fact, devoid of any distinctive character, and that the Flora pattern mark is also a valid trademark, as its decorative nature does not indicate a specific commercial source. Oh, and in case that’s not enough, the court also found in favor of Guess in Gucci’s claim that Guess copied its green-red-green stripe, of the “Gucci” logo in italics with underline, of the italicized “G” logo and of the “serial squared G.” The court held that Guess was using a different color combination and the signs in question were deemed “sufficiently different from a visual and aural standpoint.”
No word yet on whether Gucci will appeal this ruling to the Italian Supreme Court. More to come …