Puma devours Poodle

German artist Thomas Horn is the creative mind behind the new clothing line PUDEL. The logo shows a black silhouette of a jumping poodle. The word PUDEL is written in the same font as PUMA’s. The trademark was used to sell T-shirts to which PUMA reacted. Horn claimed that his expression of PUDEL was protected by his right to freedom of speech. The trademark was a parody on PUMA and should therefore be allowed.

The court did not agree with him. The new logo is suspiciously similar to PUMA’s and is being used for the same goods. This means there is trademark infringement. In trademark law there is no such thing as a parody exception. A claim to freedom of speech is therefore misplaced. The logo is used in such a way that it profits from PUMA’s reputation. Of course PUMA fully agreed with this. Use of the logo in a satirical magazine is not a problem, commercial use however is a leap too far.

parody



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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?