The Netherlands: Levi’s wins trade mark claim against Hema
Managing IP is part of Legal Benchmarking Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX
Copyright © Legal Benchmarking Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

The Netherlands: Levi’s wins trade mark claim against Hema

Denim giant Levi Strauss & Co has recently won a trade mark infringement case against Dutch retail chain Hema concerning its famous V-shaped stitching on the back pockets of its jeans.

The Arcuate mark

The dispute did not concern the word mark LEVI STRAUSS nor the characteristic red label flag (also known as The Red Tab), but covered the famous V-shaped stitching pattern also known as the Arcuate mark. The Arcuate pattern has been registered in the Benelux as a figurative mark since 1981. In addition, Levi Strauss is the holder of an EU figurative mark registered in 2004.

It is not the first time both brands have fought over the V-shaped stitching. In 2003 Levi's came across a variation of its Arcuate mark for the first time. The case was settled by both parties in 2004, when Hema recognised the exclusive trade mark rights of Levi's and declared that it would not use the Arcuate mark or a variation of the characteristic shape again. Hema seemed to comply with the agreement for a long period of time. However, in 2015 Levi's came across the use of a variation on its Arcuate mark again.

Non-identical signs

Along with its trade mark application, Levi's submitted a more detailed description of the sign, describing the mark as "the design of two curved lines positioned in the design of a pocket". The Brussels Commercial Court first established that in light of this description there were a number of differences which precluded the signs from being perceived as identical. Hema does not use two but three curved lines in the pattern. Moreover, the lines do not meet exactly in the centre but more on the left side of the pocket.

Visual similarity, identical goods and reputation

The Court held that that though the marks might not be identical, the marks do show significant similarity given the high degree of visual similarity, the fact that the signs are used for identical goods and that the Belgian public is very familiar with the mark. In the Court's view the stitching used by Hema creates a likelihood of confusion and therefore infringes the Arcuate mark.

Financial compensation

The Court prohibits Hema from further using the sign and orders a total of €4.5 million ($5 million) in damages, based on 221,603 sold articles across the Benelux. Initially Levi's had filed a damage claim of €50 ($60) per pair of jeans. The Court however, lowered this to a total of €20 ($24) for each pair sold in the Benelux since 2015, finding this a more reasonable and proportionate amount given the financial circumstances of the case. Hema has to pay a €100 ($118) fine for every pair of jeans sold after the ruling of May 14 with a maximum of €4 million ($5 million).

Myrthe Pardoen

V.O.Carnegieplein 5, 2517 KJThe HagueThe NetherlandsTel: +31 70 416 67 11Fax: +31 70 416 67

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Tom Treutler, who previously managed the Vietnamese office of Tilleke & Gibbins, has joined East IP
Counsel discuss upcoming AI and data privacy legislation and what they’ve learned since Chile joined the Madrid Protocol
INTA has postponed its planned Annual Meeting in Dubai, but the organisation should think carefully about whether it wants to go there at all
The firm has named its new managing director after its former Asia head resigned earlier this year
As law firms explore how best to support clients at the UPC, members of the UPCLA network believe they have found the best of both worlds
The Industry Patent Quality Charter hosted a conference in which it discussed the importance of granting high-quality patents
Julia Holden explains why, if she weren’t in IP, she would be directing and producing live English-language theatre
The impact of the recently agreed treaty may be modest at first but is likely to become more significant over time
Meet the esteemed judges who are assessing the first-ever Social Impact Awards
Lawyers debate whether the Supreme Court’s ruling helps maintain confidence in the trademark system
Gift this article