The three-year-long Gucci v. Guess trademark infringement debacle finally came to an end this week in the US, with Gucci awarded the relatively low settlement of $4.7 million in damages (compared to the requested $221 million). But it's not over yet: WWD is reporting that Gucci is apparently planning to file new brand protection cases in Italy, China, and France. So this is going to drag out for a long time.
But the case has been raising a lot of questions. Aside from the monetary win, one of the outcomes of the case was that Guess is permanently banned from using its Gucci-esque Quattro G pattern, as well as the green-red-green stripe pattern that has arguably become Gucci's most recognizable trademark.
Of course, the idea of commonly used colors representing a brand brings to mind that other legal battle that's been poisoning the waters of the friendly fashion world: Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent, which, more than a year later, is still raging on in the Court of Appeals. Last April, Louboutin filed a suit against YSL for selling red-soled shoes-- a longtime part of the brand's identity and a legal trademark belonging to Louboutin since 2008. The court initially sided with YSL stating that no one should have a "monopoly" over the color red-- which, in February, led Louboutin to speak out against YSL and its parent company PPR. Via Vogue UK:
I find it most incredible that a group like PPR would take the risk of defending itself as a plagiarist. They claim to fight against counterfeiting and plagiarism of which they are victims and yet behave like this.
Interestingly enough, the trademark-conscious Gucci is also owned by PPR. So will the decision on YSL's sister brand's color protection affect the outcome of Louboutin v. YSL? The answer is still unclear, but it's not looking great for Louboutin, whose trademark validity is still in question. While Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute director Susan Scafidi echoed to WWD the judge's sentiment that "color marks are protectable," Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP partner Brian Brakote said that he "[didn't] see this case having a significant effect on that [Louboutin v. YSL]."
It's a lot of ugliness in the name of beauty, that's for sure.