Gucci wins trademark infringement case against Guess, sort of

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

While Florida consumers may be excited to own a knock-off of a famous luxury product for a fraction of the cost, the owner of a trademarked brand must work hard to protect their design ideas. In this regard, companies that manufacture unauthorized replica’s and so-called knock-offs can be challenged for trademark infringement.

Since its founding in 1921, Gucci has attempted to protect its unique designs through trademark law. The luxury good’s Italian designer maintains trademarks on its designs and it continually must work to protect its products from other business’s that hope to earn sales and profits from copying Gucci’s designs.

In one of these trademark infringement cases, three years ago Gucci filed a lawsuit against the apparel retailer Guess for mimicking four Gucci designs that are protected by trademark.

This case was recently decided by a federal court judge. The judge ordered a permanent injunction against Guess for three of the designs that Gucci was concerned about, namely Gucci’s signature green-red-green stripe, the stylized square “G” and a design of interlocking “G’s.” The judge did not find that a fourth design by Guess featuring a script logo infringed upon Gucci’s trademark.

By filing this lawsuit, Gucci was not only hoping to protect its trademarked designs, but also to collect on what it believed were its damages. From Gucci’s analysis, its company was damaged by $120 million in lost sales and the dilution of its brand.

On the matter of the amount of damages that Guess should pay, the judge disagreed with this analysis. Instead, the judge awarded Gucci only $4.66 million in damages representing the profits earned by Guess by selling the trademark infringing products.

Source: Reuters, “Gucci wins $4.66 million, ban on Guess knock-offs,” Jonathan Stempel, May 21, 2012