Final Nails in the Versace 88 Coffin

Following various court rulings and subsequent patent office decisions that Versace 88 – an Israel chain of high-class retail outlets had to cease using the name and had various Versace trademarks transferred to  Gianni Versace S.P.A, the Italian fashion house, a mark for a V shape against a diagonal striped background owned by the Israel chain has been voided.

Arguably the V itself is generic, and the marks as a whole are dissimilar. Nevertheless, since Versace Israel was found to be trading on the reputation of the Italians, and the V was designed to create an association with the name Versace, the subjective facts and the non-equitable behaviour were deemed to over-ride the likelihood of confusion based on the similarity of the marks themselves.

I think the decision is correct and in view of all the facts, unavoidable. nevertheless, it is important that it does not create a precedent that a single letter mark that has acquired distinctiveness  solely by nature of its style and the background, can be voided or not registered due to likelihood of confusion with another single letter mark against a completely different background. The marks are not confusingly similar and a single letter is not distinctive.

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