Delhi High Court Declares “H” mark of French Brand Hermes as a Well Known Mark

Lesetja Malope

Lesetja Malope

04 August 20233 min read

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    French luxury clothing brand Hermès International won a trademark lawsuit at the Delhi High Court over its uniquely-styled Ndebele tribe-inspired “H” against Mumbai-based Crimzon Fashion Accessories. The brand earned itself a declaration for the “H” to be declared a well-known mark.

    Let's start with some background:

    High Court declares Hermes' trademark protection: background

    The French luxury brand dragged Crimzon to court after discovering that the latter, a footwear brand, used an “H” logo similar to its registered trademark, which it used for shoe designs.

    In this lawsuit, Hermes International S.A. sought to have its “H” design declared a well-known trademark over Crimzon’s and stop the latter from further use.

    Though Crimzon has reportedly said that had Hermes requested it to cease and desist, it would have simply compiled and stopped the alleged infringement.

    Legal info: what makes a well-known trademark in India?

    The declaration, the court said, was a result of compliance with the five statutory requirements set out in the relevant legislation (Clauses (i) to (v) of Section 11(6) of the Trade Marks Act of 1999), which the brand successfully complied with as argued by its legal team.

    Five requirements for a well-known trademark in India:

    1. The first was that the French fashion industry brand had invested in promotional efforts in the country, which resulted in it being known or recognized by the relevant section of the local public. Hermes argued that those efforts included opening stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

    2. The second was the duration, extent, and geographical area of any trademark used. The “H” trademark, inspired by the house decorations of the Ndebele tribe from Africa, was conceptualized as far back as 1997.

    3. Third was French luxury brand Hermes' trademark promotion’s duration, extent, and geographical area. It complied, too, in that it widely promoted the trademark internationally in various ways and even held several events in India.

    “In India, the Plaintiffs (Hermes) advertise their products through their stores and have showcased the Plaintiffs’ products bearing the Plaintiffs’ “H” trademark in several events conducted in India.” - Justice C. Hari Shakar said, delivering the judgment.

    4. The French luxury brand also complied with the statutory requirement that the duration and geographical area of its registration or any application for such reflects the use or recognition of the trademark already.

    The trademark was granted international registration on September 8, 2016, including designated registration in India.

    5. The last requirement was a record of successful enforcement of its rights in the trademark, particularly to the extent that it had been recognized as a well-known trademark by any court or Registrar.

    To overcome this hurdle, the legal team of the French fashion brand argued that it had been vigilant in protecting and safeguarding its trademark rights from third-party misuse and even instituted lawsuits against several alleged culprits in Germany.

    With this lawsuit, the court clarified the legal definition of a “well-known trademark” in Indian law instead of a reputed trademark. The latter does not have a legal definition in the Act.

    The declaration affords Hermes two-fold protection against registering any similar mark and against misuse of the “H” trademark.

    The importance of trademark protection

    If we can learn anything from this case, having proper trademark protection for your brand is paramount. Because of Hermes’ diligence towards protecting its IP assets, it was able to win its lawsuit and ensure that its trademark was declared a well-known one. Let’s take a page out of their book!

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