Cartier

Turns out you can’t control love.

Cartier’s attempts to corner the market on the word have recently been dismissed in a Singapore court.

Back in January 2017, MoneyMax, a Singaporean pawnbroker and retailer, which also operates in Malaysia and sells luxury jewelry and watches, among other things, applied for trademark protection of its “Love Gold” jewelry line. The words, written in English next to two Chinese characters, are prominently displayed throughout the company’s stores and on storefronts.

MoneyMax’s “Love Gold” logo, as seen in court documents.  Courtesy Court Documents

But Cartier claimed the term “love” belonged to the French luxury brand — per a much earlier trademark — and in July 2017 filed a counterclaim to stop the MoneyMax application.

The jeweler’s “Love Bracelet,” the company argued, was after all the first piece in the iconic Love Collection. The bracelet was introduced in 1970, bearing the word “love” with a line drawn through the “o” and a lowercase “e.” The distinctive “o” also served as the bracelet’s locking mechanism.

A Cartier Love Bracelet, as seen in court documents.  Courtesy Court Documents

Cartier’s Love Bracelet is a “universal symbol of love,” according to the company’s web site, or a tangible way for two people to show their attachment to one another.

The Paris-based company, which is part of Compagnie Financière Richemont, also argued that MoneyMax’s use of “love” was not distinctive, which is necessary for trademark protection, and therefore not eligible for legal protection. 

But Mark Lim Fung Chian, principal assistant registrar of trademarks at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, who heard the case, said love is everywhere — especially in the jewelry business. He concluded that a single company should not have control over the word “love.” 

“Can anyone have a monopoly over love?” Chian wrote in court documents. “‘Love’ is a word which is commonly used by jewelry traders and should not be monopolized by any trader….A Love Bracelet may represent a metaphorical shackle of a person’s loved one. The word ‘love,’ however, should be free for traders to incorporate into their trademarks for jewelry.”

Chian also pointed out that the only similarities between MoneyMax’s line and Cartier’s was the actual word “love.”

The case was officially dismissed Dec. 20. Cartier did not respond to requests for comment.