On Wednesday, the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg dismissed Chanel’s action on the grounds that the logos used for the two brands have enough distinct differences so as not to cause confusion. The court held that “the marks were dissimilar overall and that, accordingly, the opposition had to be rejected.”
The tribunal remarked that the visual differences in the two logos were significant. “The mere fact that they have the geometric shape of a circle cannot make them conceptually similar,” it said. “In particular, Chanel’s marks have more rounded curves, thicker lines, and a horizontal orientation, whereas the orientation of the Huawei mark is vertical. Consequently, the General Court concludes that the marks are different.”
— The Fashion Law (@TheFashionLaw) April 21, 2021
This is not the first time the courts have remarked on the lack of similarity between the contested logos. In fact, the trademark squabble between the companies began in September 2017 when Huawei sought approval from the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), a trademark body, to register its computer hardware trademark which has two vertical interlocking semi-circles.
Chanel objected, saying that the design was similar to its registered French logo of two horizontal interlocking semi-circles. However, in 2019, the trademark office dismissed Chanel’s objection, saying there was no similarity and no likelihood of confusion in the mind of the public. The French luxury house subsequently challenged the initial decision, which resulted in Wednesday’s ruling.
In its report on the case, Reuters accurately stated that the “trademark spat underlines how luxury brands jealously guard their signature logos and trademarks that often symbolize luxury, style, and exclusivity to millions of people worldwide.” Chanel’s obsession with protecting its logo – and destroying anything that vaguely resembles it – only illustrates the dependence on scarcity and exclusivity within the luxury sector.
The General Court of the European Union’s ruling also marks a huge victory for Huawei on the international stage. The Chinese tech giant had recently become the poster child of the Trump administration’s war on Chinese “intellectual property theft,” amid an escalating trade war between China and the US.