The European Union’s General Court (“General Court”) on July 18 ruled in Chanel’s favor against Li Jing Zhou, a Spanish Chinese jewelry wholesaler, in the latest legal efforts to protect the French luxury brand’s signature double “C” logo.
The decision also invalidated a previous unfavorable ruling against Chanel by the Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) in 2014.
According to the court documents, the China-born, Spain-based defendant initially registered a symbol consisting of two interlocking S shapes for his jewelery company Golden Rose 999 in March 2010. His trademark application was approved by the EUIPO. His case number was 1689027-0001.
The luxury powerhouse believed that Zhou’s symbol infringed on its iconic logo featuring two interlocking C shapes. Chanel registered the symbol as a trademark in France in 1989, and has used it in all of its product lines since then.
As a result, the brand requested the Cancellation Division of the EUIPO annul the mark in December 2013. However, the application was rejected in July 2014. Chanel brought the case to the Board of Appeals again in September of the same year but its request was, again, rejected.
In the latest appeal to the General Court, Chanel insisted that Zhou’s logo was way too similar to theirs, which could possibly give rise of confusion among consumers and hurt the business interests of the company.
The court agreed with Chanel’s claims that the two symbols had “remarkable similarities,” adding that Zhou’s creation was likely to be inspired by Chanel as it contained similar oval shapes and the overall impression was almost identical.
The General Court, thus, refuted the earlier ruling and asked the EUIPO to cover the costs incurred in the latest case. Chanel’s request to invalidate Zhou’s logo, however, was declined, for the reason that the request was not in the court’s purview.
Chanel has long been well known for its protectionist attitude toward its logos and various trademarks. When starting to run ads on the fashion trade journal Women’s Wear Daily in 2009, the company issued a public note to all media professionals to teach them all the various definitions of the word of “Chanel,” including “Chanel is modern elegance in couture.”
A recent story by The Fashion Law (“TFL”) noted that Chanel’s course of actions make perfect sense from a legal standpoint. Trademarks are “more than just a logo or a brand name,” she wrote. They are valuable assets in the luxury sector, as they are the way in which brands “draw in a large portion of consumers.”