Beverly Hills jeweler, Chris Aire, sued a whole host of fine jewelry and watches brands back in 2010 for trademark infringement over the use of the term “Red Gold.” One of the brands sued by Aire was LVMH’s Hublot. The legal battle between Hublot and Aire has gone through several levels of the judicial system.
The crux of Aire’s claim was that “Red Gold” was a signifier of Aire’s products and brands and that he in fact had exclusive right over the use of this term because he had federally trademarked the term.
Hublot attempted to dismiss the case through a motion of summary judgment, claiming that the trademark is generic. The lower court declined to dismiss the case and deemed that there were enough questions of fact that a jury needed to decide the outcome. Hublot then appealed this decision once again arguing that Aire has no exclusive rights over the term “Red Gold” because the term has become generic within the industry.
In November of last year, John Galliano lost a wrongful termination suit against his former employers, Christian Dior and his namesake label, John Galliano, both of which Galliano was the head designer of until the two fashion houses fired him after a very public anti-Semetic rant that occurred in a Parisian bar in early 2011.
This week, Galliano has appealed the decision of the court. Galliano had originally claimed that LVMH, which owns and operates both brands, knew of his dependency on alcohol and drugs and that his termination was wrongful, as such he was entitled to damages.
The legal battle over the use of the term ‘Red Gold’ in jewelry is raging on. Beverly Hills jeweler, Chris Aire, recently sued almost 20 luxury fashion brands, claiming trademark infringement for their use of the term ‘Red Gold’ to describe their fine jewelry and watches.
One of the brands sued was LVMH subsidiary, Hublot, who moved for summary judgment claiming that the term ‘Red Gold’ is generic and that any use of the term is not trademark infringement.
The judge in the lower court dismissed Hublot’s motion for summary judgment. Typically, a motion for summary judgment rests on the argument that there is no legal basis on which the original complaint can stand. The judge held that the issue of whether the term ‘Red Gold’ is not a matter of law to be decided by the court, but rather a matter of fact to be decided by a jury.
It seems LVMH just doesn’t want to stay out of the headlines. But, like the Hermès/LVMH dispute, the dispute between LVMH and Google was settled amicably.
The luxury conglomerate released a statement on Thursday stating it was ending its legal dispute against Google and that the two parties signed an agreement committing to jointly “tackle the advertising and sale of counterfeit goods online.”
This settlement stems from a dispute that began in 2003 when LVMH sued Google in France over Internet searches linked to specific trademarked names. LVMH claimed that Google searches produced links to websites that sold counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Dior products.
LVMH had filed suit, arguing that Google should be held liable because advertisers were able to buy keywords that corresponded with trademarks, thus allowing this advertisers to trade on the goodwill of the trademark, such as Louis Vuitton or Dior.
It has been quite the battle over the past 4 years between two fashion powerhouses: Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey, arguably the most powerful luxury goods conglomerate in the world, and Hermès, one of the most revered fashion houses, where lawsuits have been traded and claims of hostile takeovers and slander have been exchanged. And, today, the two finally called a truce with an agreement brokered by Paris Commercial Court’s president, Frank Gentin.
Let’s get some background first and start at the beginning. In October of 2010, LVMH stunned not only family-controlled Hermès but also the fashion industry by announcing it had acquired a 17.1% stake in Hermès. Many, including the luxury brand, viewed this as the beginnings of a hostile takeover, perhaps another luxury brand jewel for Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH, to place in his crown of luxury brands, alongside Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy and others.
Arnault, however, insisted that the acquisition was friendly and that LVMH did not intend to takeover Hermès. Unsatisfied with Arnault’s promises, the Hermès family shareholders created a holding company that controlled 50.2% of the company’s shares to bar Arnault or LVMH from gaining control of the brand. The Dumas, Puech and Guerrand families all together own an excess of 70% of the shares, under a partnership agreement that states that the families maintain control of the management of the brand.
After a long battle in courts, French luxury giant, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, LVMH, and online auction site, eBay, have finally settled out of court. The two powerhouse companies released a joint statement, stating, “eBay and LVMH today announced a cooperative effort to protect intellectual property rights and combat counterfeits in online commerce. Thanks to the cooperation measures put in place, the companies have settled ongoing litigation.”
This ends a litigation struggle that started in 2006, when LVMH sued eBay for not controlling the prolific knockoffs that appeared for sale on its site. LVMH argued that most of the products sold on the site that bore LVMH brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain, and more, were counterfeit products. The luxury conglomerate also claimed that sales of the knockoffs on eBay hurt its brands’ sales, thus damaging the brands and LVMH.