PARIS — Louis Vuitton has been dealt another blow in its long-running battle to recover the trademark rights for its Damier checkerboard pattern.
The European Union’s General Court has thrown out a suit by Louis Vuitton seeking to overturn a 2011 decision that took away its trademark for use of the checkerboard pattern on handbags and related goods. It also ordered Louis Vuitton to pay its opponents’ court costs.
Officials at Louis Vuitton declined to comment on the decision or whether it plans to file an appeal at the European Court of Justice.
In its ruling, dated April 21, 2015, the Luxembourg-based General Court upheld a decision by the First Board of Appeal of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM) that dismissed an appeal by Vuitton against the cancellation of its trademark.
The OHIM said at the time that “the checkerboard pattern, as represented in the contested trade mark, was a basic and banal feature composed of very simple elements and that it was well-known that that feature had been commonly used with a decorative purpose in relation to various goods.”
It added that “the contested trade mark, in the absence of features capable of distinguishing it from other representations of checkerboards, was not capable of fulfilling the essential ‘identification’ or ‘origin’ function of a trade mark.”
Louis Vuitton originally registered the trademark in 2008. In 2009, German retailer Nanu-Nana filed an application to have the trademark declared invalid, which was subsequently granted in 2011. Louis Vuitton has been battling to have that decision reversed ever since.
In addition to appearing on some of its most popular handbags, including the Speedy, the Damier pattern provided the inspiration for Vuitton’s spring 2013 women’s ready-to-wear show designed by Marc Jacobs.
A different blue-and-white checkerboard pattern appears on a range of products in the Marc by Marc Jacobs resort 2015 collection. In an unrelated move, the Marc Jacobs brand, which is majority-owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton – the parent company of Louis Vuitton – has announced it will discontinue the Marc by Marc Jacobs brand.
Burberry is engaged in a similar battle to protect the use of its Haymarket Check tartan pattern on leather goods in China.