PATOU JUDGMENT GOES AGAINST GAULTIER
PARIS — After winning its breach-of-contract suit against Christian Lacroix, the house of Jean Patou has chalked up a second victory against another former employee, Jean Paul Gaultier.
Gaultier president Donald Potard and Patou’s lawyers said Tuesday that the third chamber of Paris’s High Court had ruled that Gaultier must pay $37,000 (200,000 francs) at current exchange rates to Patou for trademark infringement and unfair competition. In the Lacroix case, Patou was awarded $6.5 million (35 million francs).
The Gaultier decision, dated Nov. 24, was disclosed by the court to both parties, but has not been officially published. Potard said Gaultier would appeal the ruling.
At issue is the logo for Gaultier’s new JPG collection, which makes it debut in January. Caroline Liboureau-Olivieri, Patou’s lawyer, successfully argued that the JPG monogram was too similar to Patou’s own JP monogram, which it has used for decades. She argued that Gaultier, who worked at Patou as a designer from 1971 to 1973, had tried to illegally profit from Patou’s reputation in borrowing the logo.
“With all due respect to the court, the idea that Gaultier is hoping to take advantage of the Patou image is absolutely ludicrous,” said Potard. “Gaultier no doubt takes his inspiration from many different sources, but Patou is certainly not one of them.”
Potard said Gaultier had, in fact, registered three versions of the logo and would use one of the other two. He said Gaultier had offered to give up the logo, but Patou refused and took the matter to court in September. Patou executives declined to comment on Gaultier’s offer.
Potard called the case a “publicity stunt.”
“They don’t have anything else to do, so they take their old designers to court,” he said, referring to Patou’s suit against Christian Lacroix. As reported, the Lacroix suit stemmed from his abrupt departure from the house in 1987. Financiere Agache, Lacroix’s initial backer when he left Patou, has paid Patou $6.5 million (35 million francs) in that case, but Agache is appealing.
Potard added that the court had ruled that Patou no longer has the right to its JP logo for apparel, because it no longer produces clothes. He said Patou would be allowed to continue using the logo for fragrances, cosmetics and accessories. Patou executives refused to confirm that part of the decision.