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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Switzerland: a win for skinny love

Yves Saint Laurent opposed the registration "SL Skinny Love" based on its older "YSL" (fig., see above) monogram. Both marks claim protection for apparel in class 25. Both the Swiss IPO and the Federal Adminstrative Court on appeal dismissed the opposition.

Yves Saint Laurent failed to prove that "YSL" was a well-known mark for fashion goods. While Yves Saint Laurent the person was well-known, this did not extend to his monogram for apparel.

The court then noted that the case law was reluctant to admit a likelihood of confusion between acronyms and short (three letters or less) marks (this is true. The "official" reason given is that consumers are very perceptive of the differences in short signs. The true reason is that the courts fear a "monopolization" of short signs if they are awarded a wide scope of protection). The addition of "Skinny Love" in the younger mark led the consumer to believe that "SL" was an abbreviation for "Skinny Love" suppressing any likelihood of confusion.

While the decision may be correct from a strictly trade mark law perspective, I am not sure whether Yves Saint Laurent does not have an unfair competition claim. It can hardly be denied that the "SL Skinny Love" sign is a riff on the (well known, in my opinion) YSL monogram. Anybody remotely interested in fashion will recognize the allusion, in particular because Hedi Slimane is the creative director for Yves Saint Laurent since 2012, and Hedi Slimane is well known for his slim-cut (skinny) men's suits.

Decision B-2296/2014 of 29 June 2015.

Posted by: Mark Schweizer @ 08.29
Tags: Switzerland, relative grounds of refusal,
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