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European court to rule on H&M and YSL dispute

The European Court of Justice will deliver a ruling to settle a trademark dispute between H&M and Yves Saint Laurent over two handbag designs tomorrow (September 10).

In 2006 YSL registered designs for two of its handbags and in 2009 H&M applied for this to be cancelled on the grounds they lacked distinctive character.

“It is fairly common for trademark and other types of intellectual property battles to take place between major retailers, as we saw, for example, in the dispute between Christian Louboutin and YSL over red soles,” said David Woods, legal director at law firm Pinsent Masons.

“At the heart of these disputes often is the aim of stopping a competitor from copying or taking advantage of intellectual property or brand reputation. However, these disputes can also arise in the type of case here where the aim is to stop a competitor from getting a monopoly right, which it basically what intellectual property rights are, over something, whether it is a design or a word or a pattern.

“It will be interesting to see in this case whether the registered designs for YSL’s handbags are allowed to stay in place or whether H&M is successful in arguing that the designs should be cancelled.”

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