Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Fashion giants conclude long intellectual property dispute

New Jersey shoppers may have long been fans of two brands that have been locked in a trademark dispute for nine years. Gucci and Guess reached an agreement in April 2018 to end their lengthy legal issues over Guess' logo and diamond pattern. Gucci alleged that the logos were knockoffs of its own distinctive, trademarked pattern. In their settlement, the two companies announced that they had concluded all international property law and trademark matters.

Gucci and Guess did not disclose the terms of the agreement that concluded the litigation, noting that both companies sought to protect their intellectual property and creative design. Intellectual property litigation engaged the two companies in Italy, France, Australia and China. Gucci first sued Guess in New York federal court in 2009 for $221 million; it alleged counterfeiting, unfair competition and trademark infringement. The lawsuit focused on a line of shoes produced by Guess with interlocking G's and stripes on the side. In 2012, Gucci was awarded $4.7 million for breach of its trademark designs and received an injunction.

After this, Gucci filed cases in a number of global courts as well as the European Union's intellectual property office. Unlike the first U.S. case, however, courts in Milan and Paris sided with Guess as did the EU general court. In China, the courts took Gucci's side, and in 2015, so did Australian courts. Gucci has also filed complaints against fast-fashion company Forever 21, alleging that garments produced by the retailer knocked off its trademarked stripe patterns.

For many companies, whether in the field of design or in software development, intellectual property can be some of the most valuable assets that a business possesses. Protecting that property is critical to developing one's business and maximizing its value. An attorney may help business owners file for the protections they need and move into intellectual property litigation when necessary.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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