Chanel Loses Trademark Dispute With Huawei Over Latter's Logo

from the smells-like-a-loss dept

It's no secret that Chanel, the famous French luxury brand most notable for concocting things that make us smell better, is also a voracious protector of its trademarks. As evidence for this, one needs only to recall that the company once bullied a 2-person candy purveyor over its use of the number "5". The point is, when Chanel comes a-calling complaining about trademarks, you really need to view it all with narrow eyes.

Chanel's years-long trademark row with electronics company Huawei is no different. This story begins way back in 2017, when Huawei attempted to register a logo for its hardware division with EUIPO.

The dispute dated to 2017 when Huawei sought approval from the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), a trademark body, to register its computer hardware trademark which has two vertical interlocking semi-circles.

Privately owned Chanel objected, saying that the design was similar to its registered French logo of two horizontal interlocking semi-circles used for its perfumes, cosmetics, costume jewellery, leather goods and clothing.

How similar are the logos? Well, the answer is very, very similar... if you mean that they are exact opposites.

The Chanel logos are on the bottom and the Huawei logo in question is up top. Yes, there's a circle enclosing both symbols. Yes both include interlocking shapes. But beyond that, the logos are essentially opposites. And, frankly, not the kind of opposite that calls to mind Chanel's logo at all. Add to all of that the fact that these two companies compete in wildly different markets and it's fairly crazy that Chanel thought it should kick off this dispute to begin with.

But it did. And then, in a 2019 decision by the trademark office, it lost. The trademark office indicated that the logos really weren't similar at all. For some reason Chanel appealed that decision and lost there too.

The French luxury house subsequently challenged the ruling at the Luxembourg-based General Court, which dismissed the appeal in its ruling on Wednesday.

"The figurative marks at issue are not similar. The marks must be compared as applied for and registered, without altering their orientation," the tribunal of judges said.

The tribunal said the visual differences in the two logos were significant.

"In particular, Chanel's marks have more rounded curves, thicker lines and a horizontal orientation, whereas the orientation of the Huawei mark is vertical. Consequently, the General Court concludes that the marks are different," it said.

It's a decision as right as Chanel's decision to start this fray was wrong. There is little if any chance of public confusion in this case, given the differences in the branding coupled with the divergent markets in which these companies operate.

The better question is why famous brands so often feel the need to gum up the works like this to begin with?

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Filed Under: eu, luxury brands, trademark
Companies: chanel, huawei


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Apr 2021 @ 6:52pm

    The better question is why famous brands so often feel the need to gum up the works like this to begin with?

    Racking up billable hours and/or thinking that their customers are monumentally stupid and prone to confusion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2021 @ 8:56pm

    Another friendly reminder that Coco Chanel was a Nazi and doesn't deserve her name to be on anything more than prison cell for war criminals.

    Chanel should be boycotted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    pixelation, 21 Apr 2021 @ 9:17pm

    Hmm

    Something stinks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 21 Apr 2021 @ 9:31pm

    Not only orientation, but that's clearly enough on its own

    Huawei's logo overlaps on the left for the top part, and on the right for the bottom part. Chanel's.. doesn't. And Huawei's parts are U shaped, whereas Chanel's are C shaped.

    Clearly the judge nor I are the morons Chanel is looking for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 22 Apr 2021 @ 12:20am

      Re: Not only orientation, but that's clearly enough on its own

      And it looks nothing like a certain notorious "manufacturer of footwear, sports and casual apparel".

      Also, there have never ever been ancient typographical forms such as
      Glagolitic Ⱗ, Runicᛯ, or Tifinaghⵋ

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2021 @ 11:34pm

    no imagination

    How do these scribbles qualify for trademark protection? They look awfully simple to me. Children draw patterns like this all the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2021 @ 3:28am

    The better question is why famous brands so often feel the need to gum up the works like this to begin with?

    Because someone in charge believes it matters for something or other. Because it gives them publicity in places they otherwise wouldn't. Because their oversized legal departments need something to pass the time with and justify their continued employment. And because they can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ceyarrecks (profile), 22 Apr 2021 @ 5:57am

    Que Sarcasm

    ...aaaawww, too bad Chanel was that Child Not Left Behind, they would have easily recognized the letters, C, U, and N.
    /end sarcasm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2021 @ 6:34am

    Not only are the logos significantly different, Chanel is a company created based around a viciously anti-semitic nazi collaborator that informed on resistance members and hated "inferiors".......so fuck em with a big pointy stick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bill Poser (profile), 22 Apr 2021 @ 10:40am

    why so contrary?

    The reason companies often give for being very aggressive about questionable trademark infringements is that if they do not enforce their trademarks they run the risk of losing them, an issue that does not arise with, e.g., copyright. They're right, up to a point. Perhaps the problem could be reduced by the courts, or legislation, clarifying what counts as dilution of a trademark, e.g. making it clear that if the marks are used in widely different industries, there is no risk of losing a trademark due to lack of enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2021 @ 3:36pm

      Re: why so contrary?

      When there is clearly no "loss of trademark" in the cards, particularly after the courts have already told you so once, that theory shits the bed.

      Never mind they aren't in any of the same markets and look nothing alike.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Apr 2021 @ 3:09pm

    I look forward to them having to produce documents showing they are going into the electronics market with a viable plan.

    The cost of a lawsuit isn't deterring these stupid cases, perhaps having to produce the business plan showing how they are entering the market will raise the costs more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2021 @ 3:54pm

    The chanel logo looks like 2 interlocked Cs
    The other logo is like 2 interlocked u,s
    Huawei is a tech company it does not sell handbags or branded
    Clothes
    I understand chanel is agreesive over its trademark as its whole business is based on people buying products that show the logo.
    Eg I am rich I can afford to spend 1000 dollars on a handbag
    No one is buying pcs or telecom routers thinking they might
    made by a French fashion house
    No one goes to a shop that sells fruit looking to buy an apple phone
    Logos like Nike or chanel are worth billions cos people will pay
    100s of dollars extra to buy a product with the right logo
    The logo is a status symbol

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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