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Vans takes trademark case to EU court

Vans will be the second brand this week to defend its designs in court this week, following in the wake of G-Star’s Raw’s case against Voi Jeans.

Vans is due to appear in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on November 6 in an attempt to register a design on the side of some of its footwear, which looks like a wiggly line, as a trademark.

Vans originally tried to register the design on September 4, 2011, however the Board of Appeal of the Community Trade Mark Office rejected its attempt on the basis that logos consisting of lines and geometric features are fairly widely used in the clothing and footwear sector. Vans is now taking the case to the CJEU in an attempt to get this ruling overturned.

Lee Curtis, trademark attorney and partner at law firm HGF, said Vans would have to prove the public sees the design as a trademark separate from the main Vans logo.

“The case concerns the question of whether a design on the side of a pair of shoes, for example, can act as a trademark and not merely as a decorative feature.

“Vans obviously places high value on this design, given that they have taken this matter all the way to the CJEU, and it possibly illustrates the increasing importance of attempting to monopolise elements of design as points of distinction in the fashion marketplace.”

G-Star Raw was in London’s High Court this week challenging Rhodi, maker of Voi Jeans, over an alleged infringement of G-Star’s design rights. Rhodi has denied the allegations and filed a counterclaim.

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