Marks & Spencer The Perfect match

Flo Broughton starts a chocolatery named ‘Choc on Choc’ with her father back in 2003. Ever since 2015, they have been selling matches made out of white Belgian chocolate. The words ‘Perfect Match’ are pressed into the chocolate. Marks & Spencer launches an almost identical product with Valentine's Day this year, leaving Flo not amused.

 

Flo Broughton starts a chocolatery named ‘Choc on Choc’ with her father back in 2003. Ever since 2015, they have been selling matches made out of white Belgian chocolate. The words ‘Perfect Match’ are pressed into the chocolate. Marks & Spencer launches an almost identical product with Valentine's Day this year, leaving Flo not amused.

When Flo contacts M&S through the usual channels, a deafening silence is her part. Reason for her to share her frustration on Instagram. This quickly goes viral, prompting M&S to pull all the plugs in order to calm the online storm.

M&S’s spokesperson states that they hold IP rights in high regard. Choc on Choc is lifted onto the shield as a fantastic company and it will launch a special line of chocolate products together with M&S around Mother's Day and Easter. Lesson learned on product launches. First carefully check the playing field. If a complaint arises, take it seriously. A social media post can really spin out of control.

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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?