Puma formstrip well-known serial trademark

Between 1960 and present Puma has obtained nearly 90 trademark registrations in Europe for its formstrip. When Monshoe launches sneakers with a similar imprint, Puma argues this constitutes an infringement of its serial trademark. Monshoe defends itself claiming that the consumer does not perceive a trademark in this, just a decorative print. The design hardly calls an association with Puma in the public’s mind.

 

Court disagrees. Puma has been using the strip on its shoes since 1960. Significant advertising costs have been made to promote the trademark to the public. As a result of this long and intensive use, the formstrip has even become a well-known trademark.

The design on Monshoe's shoes bears high similarity to this brand and is used for the same goods. By mimicking this, Monshoe benefits from the reputation of the formstrip.

There is also a risk of dilution of the brand's reputation. The Puma formstrip becomes commonplace when a similar design is used by others. This is detrimental to the distinctive character and reputation of the formstrip trademark. As a result a ban is issued, damages awarded, a recall of sold goods and rectification. (Source image: Abcor)

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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?