Another case of when imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.
Three years ago, Gucci filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Guess. Unfortunately, Gucci’s then in-house counsel was not up to date with his bar registration. I am not sure why it took three years later for this case to continue but at the end of March the case finally made its way into federal court in Manhattan before Judge Shira Scheindlin. If only they had waited 1/2 year longer and hired me, this could have been such an easy win for me. I love Gucci (the products, history, and salespeople alike–except for one nasty woman I encountered in Venice).
The issue in this case is Guess’s blatant use of Gucci’s products for
imitation inspiration. Particularly, Guess’s use of the square G and quattro G designs along with post-sale customer confusion. Guess’s footwear licensing company, Marc Fisher Footwear, copied Gucci’s trademarks and recognizable trade dress: the diamond-shaped pattern, green and red stripe design, and cursive font.
Guess’s defense: It took inspiration from many designers. It does sound like something silly to use as a defense but with so much evidence, like e-mails from 1995 to 2008 saying that Marc Fisher Footwear mentioned sending Gucci fabric samples to Guess’s fabric supplier to use for replication and an admission that $75,000 of Gucci products were purchased by Guess, the best Guess could hope for is to show that they took small ideas from many designers rather than too much from one.
Play judge: Was Guess inspired by Gucci or did Guess purposely copy Gucci?
Gucci’s only problem in my opinion may be that so much time has gone on with Guess infringing Gucci. As I mentioned previously, when a brand knows that its trademark is being misappropriated it needs to react in order to maintain the integrity of its mark.