Louis Vuitton Fails to Win Back Trademark for Chequerboard Pattern

The General Court of the European Union upheld a ruling that described the chequerboard as "one of the most basic patterns used as a decorative element."
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The General Court of the European Union upheld a ruling that described the chequerboard as "one of the most basic patterns used as a decorative element."
The pattern in question. Photo: Louis Vuitton

The pattern in question. Photo: Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton has had a mix of wins and losses in its efforts to protects its registered trademarks against copycats, particularly when it comes to handbags. But the luxury brand's latest court battle has resulted in in a loss — for now at least.

Louis Vuitton has been trying to overturn a 2011 decision that took away its trademark for the Damier brown and beige chequerboard pattern in European Union member states, which it set up in 2008. Frequently used on handbags, the pattern is arguably its most iconic next to the LV monogram. That said, it's still just a chequerboard pattern.

Last week, as first reported by Practical Law, the EU General Court confirmed that the trademark had been invalidly registered due to a lack of "distinctive character" and having failed to "acquire distinctive character through use."

Court documents describe the chequerboard as "one of the most basic patterns used as a decorative element," as well as "very simple" and containing "no element capable of individualizing it in such a way that it would not appear as a common and basic chequerboard pattern."

The trademark was initially called into question by German retailer Nanu-Nana, which filed a motion in 2009 to have it declared invalid; that application was upheld two years later, and Louis Vuitton has been trying to appeal that decision ever since.

Last week's ruling means that as of now, the trademark has been cancelled. A spokesperson for Louis Vuitton did not immediately respond to a question about whether the company plans to appeal.

Hat tip: WWD