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Trademark law is difficult

A Norfolk couple have won a battle with one of the world’s richest men over the name of their home and gardening business.

A tribunal ruled in favour of Victoria and Lawrence Osborne, L V Bespoke, this week after the French luxury goods giant LVMH launched a trademark dispute against the couple.

LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Dior, is owned by Bernard Arnault who vies with Elon Musk for title of the world’s richest man.

Victoria and Lawrence Osborne registered the name of their business, L V Bespoke, as a trademark in 2021 after setting up the company during the pandemic.

However, they subsequently received a legal letter objecting to their trademark on behalf of Louis Vuitton which claimed the couple’s logo could cause “consumer confusion”, according to legal documents.

If you don’t defend a trademark then it ceases to exist as a trademark (in essence at least). Which always does mean that there will be cases over the edge into silliness.

For decades you’d see letters in the papers . “Sir, you reporter referred to biro, it is Biro, a registered trade mark of….” etc. That’s just what is necessary to keep Bito as a trademark. Gotta defend it.

12 thoughts on “Trademark law is difficult”

  1. LV for me will always mean ‘Luncheon Vouchers’.

    Don’t I remember reading somewhere that Cynthia Payne’s brothel took LVs? And wasn’t one of her clients caught in a police raid a Professor from a London University? (I didn’t know Unis gave LVs).

  2. EM

    Lol i was about to make the same remark. My brothers used to save their LVs and as a family we hardly ever paid for fish n chips. 15p was the standard voucher.

    Anyway. Arnault does have a point. If the name was longstanding or it was someone’s surname involved ( eg those Harrods cases ) then they could have let it pass., but otherwise a challenge was justified.

  3. When you said Norfolk I thought it was about Richard Murphy – maybe he’s trying to sue LVMH – or has defamed them and they can take the b&%tard to the cleaners.

    As to the argument itself – LVMH are entitled to take their trademark and defend it as you say Tim. I doubt many LV wearers do their gardening themselves anyhow….

  4. Active protection is certainly required by US law, but I’m not so sure it is in Britain. Then again, a multinational probably has to do it everywhere to satisfy the Yanks.

    “Mr. Megacorp, there’s a chain in Outer Mongolia trading under your name and you’ve done absolutely nothing about it. Isn’t that the case?”

    “Well, we don’t operate there and as far as I’m aware Mongolian law doesn’t requi…”

    “You’ve done nothing about it! Have you? Yet you’re persecuting my client for doing exactly the same thing? The defense rests.”

  5. One can only assume the litigious froggies have reached an impasse concerning Liverpool Victoria’s 2007 rebranding.

  6. IIRC Steven Pinker in The Language Instinct related that concern about trademark dilution was the likely motivation for the obstinate refusal of the public relations office of the Sony Corporation to sanction either Walkmans or Walkmen, instead insisting that the correct plural form of Walkman was Walkman(T) Personal Stereos.

  7. Trademarks are adjectives too. So it is not a Biro, it is a Biro brand ball-point pen. When I first moved to the US there was a ubiquitous brand of decaffeinated coffee called Sanka, so people just used “Sanka” to mean decaf. Their ads always said “Sanka-brand decaffeinated coffee”. So trademarks, like Escalator, really did lose protection and become generic.

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