Scoop behind Louis Vuitton chequerboard pattern by Pharrell Williams for Spring Summer 2024 Menswear collection. Review by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Louis Vuitton.
Pharrell Williams fired up everything he’s got for his debut as a creative director of Louis Vuitton Menswear and showed the Spring Summer 2024 collection at Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris. Apart from some old recycled outfits from his own wardrobe and giant yellow pajamas for Beyoncé there was one, eyes burning fact – Louis Vuitton chequerboard pattern everywhere.
The concept of “too much” is not even close to cover Louis Vuitton damier “all over” and “everywhere” concept. Everybody, and when I say everybody, I mean literally all 1800 invited guests were asking the same question: what’s with Louis Vuitton damier everywhere?
Even the show was not over I already guessed the reason – In October 2022 The General Court confirmed the cancellation of Louis Vuitton’s chequerboard pattern trademark in Europe, that resulted the cancellation in the USA. The reason: No distinctive character acquired through use.
IP Case Law | The General Court confirms the cancellation of Louis Vuitton’s chequerboard pattern trade mark.
In case T-275/21, the GC confirmed the Boards of Appeal decision to cancel Louis Vuitton’s chequerboard pattern mark on the grounds that it had not acquired distinctiveness through use throughout the territory of the European Union.
In its ruling, the GC points out that public from Member States exposed to advertising campaigns published elsewhere – e.g. when travelling–, cannot be considered relevant evidence for assessing the public’s perception in the Member States concerned.
It also concludes that the fact that a website on which the mark is promoted is accessible in certain Member States isn’t sufficient to demonstrate that a significant part of the relevant public in those countries has been exposed to it.
But I had this gut feeling that there was so much more than just that. At first I suspected Pharrell Williams in some foul play as someone tipped him off about this. Although he is known for being compilator but not that maleficent. And on top he is not in fashion to know all codes, trademarks… But now I actually have to rectify it with apologies to Pharrell. So what actually happened?
Thinking through over and over again we did some research over different trademark registration offices in the world. Being totally honest, we didn’t publish anything about this cancellation of the Louis Vuitton chequerboard pattern last year, simply because we didn’t want to give the idea to designers like Olivier Rousteing and company that now they can use it willy-nilly.
Case Investigation – Louis Vuitton chequerboard pattern by Pharrell Williams
Literally every piece of this collection was stamped like farmer’s cows with “Marque Louis Vuitton déposée“. It means “Registered Louis Vuitton trademark“. The jackets, the bags, the pochettes, the boots and the hats – everything. The photocall was covered with the wallpapers with the same stamp in different colors.
So when we read the decision of the European trademark registration office EUIPO from October 2022 we see the reason for the refusal, which is mainly related to the fact that not enough people were exposed to it, not enough people know that this pattern belongs to Louis Vuitton. So Louis Vuitton can’t appropriate this pattern.
The battle for this pattern Louis Vuitton started 10 years ago in Europe and USA. All demands and appeals were refused. For someone who would really like to study all the documents in many cases please see LAW CASE AT CURIA. See the massive number of the judgements HERE.
I also noticed that some of the chequerboard patterns were filed for registration by Louis Vuitton in 2018-2019-2020. That was not that long ago.
And I’m going to just pull out several judgements from these cases and summer up: “appellant had not demonstrated that the contested mark had acquired distinctive character through its use in all the Member States of the European Union”. And so on and so forth. And again: “No distinctive character acquired through use”. It means that this pattern can’t be particularly associated with Louis Vuitton, and Louis Vuitton can’t claim the trademark right for this pattern. In general, everyone can use it in the production of their products, as it is not in particular associated with Louis Vuitton.
There are a couple of hundreds trademark applications we can see filed by Louis Vuitton all over the world in the last couple of years. You can see all of them HERE.
CANCELLED, REFILED, NOT REGISTERED
I understand the battle and struggle. But what I don’t understand is what happened when the last decision came in October 2022 – EUIPO refused to register Louis Vuitton damier pattern as a trademark. In February 2023 there were some big changes in the management of LVMH fashion brands. Pietro Beccari who was until February 2023 CEO of Dior became CEO of Louis Vuitton. His place as CEO took Delphine Arnault.
So the fallacious plan was actually brewed by new CEO of Louis Vuitton Pietro Beccari. He took place at the beginning of February 2023. Two weeks later Louis Vuitton announced a new creative director of menswear Pharrell Williams. Meaning – let’s put the fame of Pharrell Williams for good use.
So I take it that Louis Vuitton insists and refiled for the registration. Only this time Louis Vuitton really has to come up with serious public awareness and proof that the public associates this pattern with Louis Vuitton. Massive sales sheets won’t work… again.
Oh… these marketers from New York schools. What exactly do you learn down there? This is not a movie with Michael Douglas. We are in real life. And in real life it looks… well… as it does… EUGH… And I don’t want to sound disrespectful.
So Pharrell Williams was the choice only to stamp all Louis Vuitton looks, and purses, and stars with the “LOUIS VUITTON REGISTERED TRADEMARK” thingy. But the trademark is not registered…. 10 years of battle was lost. Ok, the trademarks refiled… BUT NOT REGISTERED! The EUIPO trademark registration office wanted public to be aware and accept that this pattern is associated with Louis Vuitton, and not that this trademark is registered by Louis Vuitton. Do you see the difference?
So Mr Pietro Beccari, do you know that all this show, all these stamps and patterns allover …. is just… BIG FAT LIE! Why would you go for this cheap “marketing campaign” and bring such a wonderful house like Louis Vuitton that low???!!!
I hope you realize what people will be aware about? Imagine Jay-Z, or all these basketball players brought by Pharrell Williams will be aware that they’ve been manipulated and simply used… again? I seriously doubt that you’ll win this way. There are creative ways to do it…
Tip. When the Court says public awareness, they mean people who don’t buy luxury goods. And that would be 70% of the population of planet Earth. These people may have heard about Louis Vuitton but they are not watching the news, or following the trends. So how to make them aware? Not by stamping basketball players with “Louis Vuitton trademark registered” sign, that’s for sure.
CHECK AND MATE, Mr Big Shot!