Who will be breaking hearts on Valentine’s Day? Intellectual Property governing bodies!
That’s right, a whole host of trademark applications pertaining to V-Day greetings may come face to face with rejection — and here is why.
A trademark is a symbol, sign, word, phrase or a combination of these to distinguish the goods or services of one party from another. It is a requirement for trademarks to be discernible from others, which is why businesses may fail to protect their desired Valentine’s Day slogans as many hope to own the rights to common words such as ‘love,’ ‘hugs,’ and ‘kisses.’ Companies may also seek to protect shape trademarks, such as heart shapes or ‘XOXO, to no avail.
One business who was not successful in securing a Valentine’s Day related trademark is French luxury goods company Cartier. Established in the 1800s, the company’s history is rooted in serving aristocracy and is currently one of the most prestigious jewelers in the world.
Cartier’s LOVE collection is at the forefront of our discussion of Valentine’s Day trademark troubles.
LOVE bracelets by Cartier were popularised by American reality TV stars the Kardarshians, namely Kylie Jenner who was notorious for stacking them on her wrist, totalling upwards to $40,000. The LOVE bracelet subsequently became the most googled jewelry item in the world at more than 350,000 times a month.
In protecting the exclusivity of LOVE bracelets, Cartier International SNC have taken steps to ensure no other product on the market mimics their prized asset. The company has been successful in trademarking the word ‘LOVE,’ however only in Cartier’s own specified font and design. Letters ‘O’ and ‘E’ have a horizontal line across them both and it is in this particular design which Cartier protects the ‘LOVE’ branding.
Cartier does not own the rights to the word ‘love’ itself, evidenced by the failure to stop Singaporean pawnbroker MoneyMax from filing a trademark application of the slogan ‘Love Gold.’ The jeweler submitted a counterclaim stating the trademark filed has strong similarities in branding to Cartier’s LOVE collection.
Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office declined Cartier’s request to remove MoneyMax’s trademark application.
The registrar of trademarks, Mark Lim Fung Chian, stated:
‘Can anyone have a monopoly over love? […] ‘Love’ is a word which is commonly used by jewelry traders and should not be monopolized by any trader. A Love Bracelet may represent a metaphorical shackle of a person’s loved one. The word ‘love,’ however, should be free for traders to incorporate into their trademarks for jewelry.’source
Whilst Cartier may not be successful in preventing third parties from trademarking the word ‘love,’ they might make gains in preventing counterfeit LOVE bracelets from being sold on the market, as exemplified by this lawsuit filed by both Cartier and Amazon.
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