Another day, another Saint Laurent intellectual property news story! The french fashion house has had a challenge to two of its registered designs by H&M, dismissed by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Back in 2006, when Saint Laurent still went by the name YSL, the company registered two designs for its handbags, one of which looks to be its ‘Tribute’ bag. H&M had applied to have said registrations cancelled on the basis that they weren’t distinctive enough (a requirement for registered designs.) As way of evidence, H&M produced one of its own previous designs that was similar to the YSL design. The fast fashion retailer claimed the YSL version was too similar to allow it protection.
In making its ruling, the court noted that there were three substantial differences between the two bags, the shape, structure and surface finish. It noted that the YSL bag created a different ‘overall impression’. The court also referred to the fact that the bag’s handles were designed to be carried in a different way with “the YSL designs represent(s)a bag to be carried solely by hand, whereas the H&M design represents a bag to be carried on the shoulder.”
Registered Designs are registered with the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM) and receive EU Wide protection for 25 years. Research indicates that there has been little use of Registered Design Rights in the fashion industry in Europe. This is most likely because of the seasonal nature of the fashion industry – few designs are popular more than three years after they appear on the runway. Given the time and expense it takes to register a design, few warrant this 25 years protection. Designers also benefit from the unregistered design right which automatically gives designs three years protection without any need to register. For most fashion designs, this is deemed sufficient. In this instance, YSL obviously planned to make the bags fashion staples, bags that would stand the test of time in today’s fast moving fashion world.
Will H&M appeal? More to come!