IP Docketers

European Trademark

Protection of Trademarks For The European Shoe Industry

From an economic and cultural standpoint, it is undeniable that one of Europe European Trademark most essential exports is fashion, and one of its most unique components is footwear. This valuable market can maintain its success by enforcing strict brand identity protection and fair competition.
Some upcoming Hollywood films, including “House of Gucci,” “Phantom Thread,” and “Personal Shopper,” focus on European Trademarks, fashion and shoe design because it is so integral to the region’s cultural identity. A year or two ago, Daniel Day-Lewis worked as Stefano Bremer’s apprentice under the master shoemaker.
But, the reality of the European Trademarks footwear industry is sometimes less glamorous than the movies would have us believe. Because of the extreme competition, branding and trademark registration are crucial. On shoes, Europe offers some fascinating Intellectual Property (IP) prospects but also a few difficulties. Here, we’ll look at some European shoemakers’ challenges and discuss typical traps to avoid.
Italian shoe manufacturers can get advice and help with all their trademark needs by contacting the IP Docketers & Associates office in Italy.

European trademark shoe production and branding: critical aspects and difficulties

In 2022, Statista projects that the European shoe market will produce roughly $137 billion. With an estimated $56.6 billion market share, leather and textile-based footwear rule. Brand owners must put their best foot forward and act confidently in such a prosperous industry to protect their market share. And one of the most practical steps is to pursue trademark registration.
European shoe manufacturing is centred in Italy, the world’s top footwear manufacturer. But, the epidemic struck the country a severe hit. That caused it to fall outside the top 10 nations producing shoes. Even so, brands like Salvatore Ferragamo and Bruno Magli, together with smaller but equally well-known ones. Ones like Enzo Bonafe and Bontoni keep Italy on top as a shoe producer. Many still associate these names with high design standards, craftsmanship, and services provided by the companies that hold them.
Despite Germany and Italy ranking as the third and eighth largest footwear exporters in 2021, respectively, no European nation was among the top ten producers of the product. Although Spain, France, and Portugal are also known for their excellent shoemaking, only some EU member states escaped the financial hardships of COVID-19.
Strong trademarks may surely aid European trademark firms in their efforts to stand out in these more challenging times. Even relatively new branding channels like social media have a more enduring, emotive appeal than a distinctive mark. With all these advantages, businesses would want to take every precaution to protect their intellectual property. Still, organisations that seek to register their trademarks may encounter challenges related to distinctiveness.

The controversy surrounding Adidas v. Shoe Branding Europe

One only needs to think back to the legal dispute between Adidas and Shoe Branding Europe to see the challenges one must overcome to get and keep a European Union Trademark (EUTM). Adidas’ “three stripes” logo, which is a voice consisting of “three parallel equidistant stripes of the same width. And is imprinted on the object in any orientation,” was unable to persuade the EU General Court in 2019 that it should be a good official EUTM.
A six-year ordeal that started in 2013 when Adidas applied to register a new trademark ended with the General Court’s ruling that the mark was illegal. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) began trademark invalidity proceedings with the Belgian firm Shoe Branding Europe BVBA long after the registration was blessed the following year, citing lack of uniqueness as the primary defence. Shortly after, EUIPO examiners cancelled Adidas’ registration.
The General Court ultimately ended the rejection after the following challenges to the office’s Board of Appeal encountered similar opposition. The mark had to have gained distinctive character via use in the EU, as required by European law, but Adidas ultimately failed to prove this. It should have considered more of Adidas’s evidence since it contained more signs with flipped colour schemes.
Adidas is traditional in Germany and is well-known throughout the world. Thus, its claim that the “three stripes” trademark used on its apparel, footwear, and headgear has special recognition in the EU is not at first glance ludicrous. But, the EUIPO and the EU’s highest court needed to tell someone that the modified version of the symbolic mark had acquired distinctiveness because it was new.
These objections serve as a reminder of the significance of developing a solid trademark filing approach. And its’ purpose is always to secure trademark protection that stands up to scrutiny. Always remember that they cannot contain significant modifications to the definition of a figurative mark. Additionally, even if they are a result of a registered trademark.
Obviously, in the eyes of Shoe Branding Europe, the verdict only emphasises the importance of battling for an impartial and level playing field. The tango requires four shoes.

A new chance to safeguard trademarks in Europe?

As we have seen, Italy is the hub of the European shoe business. So, we can look to it for creative IP protection strategies. The Italian designation of “historical marks” (Marchio Storico) permits Italian firms to register as historical brands of national interest. It initially appears to be a template for other nations to imitate. After all, many companies, like Benetton, use these trademarks to strengthen their domestic reputation. And brand identity and they may even profit from crisis finance.
There are but many restrictions and warnings to take into account:
  • Only businesses with trademarks registered or used continuously in Italy for 50 years or more are eligible to apply for a Marchio Storico.
  • The mark strengthens current trademark protections but does not grant any new intellectual property rights.
  • Even the provided financial safeguards needed more to prevent renowned denim producer Rifle from going bankrupt.
  • On the use of Italian historical markers, several problems still need to reply. For instance, does the fact that a historical marker has been minute to show its market significance or makes the admission of a historical connection to a specific location negate claims of a wide EU reputation?
  • Given those above, historical markers’ quantifiable benefits to businesses remain unknown. Other laws for the Marchio Storico designation and potential EU counterparts might make these difficulties more evident.
Right now, whether situated in Europe or just doing business there, trademark registration is shoemakers’ wisest course of action. And it’s much better if that trademark acquires sufficient renown to be eligible for superior protection. And it is provided by Italian and EU laws for registered reputable marks.
Trademarks are the best option for the footwear sector in Europe to guarantee a thriving, competitive. And the innovative market for the now and the future. Because imaginative marks with distinctive characteristics have the best prospects of approval by the EUIPO. And shoe brands seeking European trademark protection must think outside the box when developing their logos.

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