Louis Vuitton Loses Checkerboard Trademark Case Because The Pattern Is Too Basic
Louis Vuitton is trying hard to trademark its checkerboard pattern, the same pattern that is often found on its handbags and was a feature of its Spring/Summer 2013 collection. However, the General Court of the European Union has denied Louis Vuitton's appeal on the 2011 decision to declare LV's Damier checkerboard pattern, for lack of a better term, basic.
In 1998, Louis Vuitton trademarked its signature brown checkerboard pattern with the E.U. and registered the black-and-white version in 2008, but in 2011, the General Court overturned both of these trademarks, saying that “the checkerboard pattern, as represented in the contested trademark, was a basic and banal feature composed of very simple elements."
The court also ruled that since the checkerboard pattern lacks any brand-specific features, like the signature LV monogram, it cannot be exclusively owned by Louis Vuitton, which makes sense. It's basically like someone trying to trademark stripes. Burberry has gone through similar struggles with its signature plaid — the copyright was revoked in China in 2013. Unfortunately, trademark laws vary per country, so just because it is protected in one country, doesn't mean the same rules apply around the world.
It's quite possible that Louis Vuitton will try to contest this ruling again. With millions of dollars behind the brand, it almost seems worth it to keep paying lawyers if it means they will get the exclusive rights to use a checkerboard pattern. Bustle has reached out to Louis Vuitton for comment and will update if they respond.