This week, an American federal judge ruled in favour of luxury brand Gucci in a trademark infringement lawsuit over US-based denim company Guess. The Italian fashion and leather goods label was awarded a comparatively small £3 million in damages for what they called “studied imitations of Gucci trademarks.”
The renowned fashion house had been seeking as much as £140 million in damages for misuse of their trademark, the “Quattro G” brown and beige pattern. Gucci filed for trademark infringement on the basis that Guess been using a pattern similar to this, as well as square G symbols and the “signature” green-red-green stripe that has become closely associated with Gucci.
Despite the ruling in Gucci’s favour, Guess CEO Paul Marciano has said that the court actually “sided with Guess” because of the small amount of damages awarded. Marciano called Gucci’s court requests and damage claims of £140 million “unconscionable by its scope,” and said that they failed to account for “trademark rights that Guess has used for 23 years.” While Gucci was granted damages for using the green-red-green stripe and Quattro G pattern, Macriano says Guess retains the right to use their script logo.
Marciano went on to accuse Gucci of “court-forum shopping” in an effort to find a court that was friendly to their interests, and said that despite the recent ruling, Guess would continue to defend themselves in any further trademark battles.
Gucci and Guess are not the only top brands that are locked in court battles over trademark registration rights, as the fashion industry is rife with disagreement. Another case that is attracting much attention is the lawsuit of luxury footwear purveyors Christian Louboutin against Yves Saint Laurent (YSL).
The lawsuit, which was put on hold in August of last year but is still pending, accuses YSL of infringing on Christian Louboutin’s exclusive right to have red soles on the bottom of all of its footwear. The famous “red outsoles” have gained popularity in recent years and have become inseparable with the luxury Louboutin brand, the company argues.
Despite the fact that Christian Louboutin claims it has had ownership of their trademarked red soles since 2008, YSL argues that it’s impossible to trademark a colour. It’s now up for courts to decide whether a company can own the right to use a specific colour in a specific place on a garment, but Christian Louboutin may be forced to trademark a more district, Quattro G-like pattern on the bottom of their red soles.