Puma’s Patent Design Invalidated By ‘badgalriri’

Puma’s Patent Design Invalidated By ‘badgalriri’

A design patent filed by Puma has been invalidated by the General Court of the European Union.

Earlier in March, the court ruled against Puma’s patent application, citing Rihanna’s social media activity as proof that the design has been publicly disclosed prior to the date of application. 

Barbados-born performer Rihanna appeared to be wearing Puma footwear in various posts on her Instagram account ‘badgalriri’ – footwear designs of which Puma attempted to patent. Puma filed its design patent application for this particular shoe design in 2016. The patent was challenged as the shoe design was pictured on social media spanning across several posts dating back to 2014, approximately one and a half years prior to Puma’s patent application. 

The company presenting evidence to invalidate Puma’s patent application is Dutch wholesale retailer Handelsmaatschappij J. van Hilst (HJVH). HJVH submitted evidences of Rihanna wearing shoes resembling designs sought to be patented by Puma. The company, who also retails Puma within their stores, argued that the German footwear company had publicly disclosed the design prior to filing. 

The EUIPO has previously invalidated Puma’s patent application in 2021. The German footwear company appealed to the General Court of the EU not long after, of which the final decision was presented to Puma three years later. 

Under EU law, a design patent may be invalidated should the design be made public within twelve months prior to the patent application date. Similarly in Malaysia, a design or invention should not be disclosed to the public, either in Malaysia or internationally, in any way before the patent application is filed. Any disclosure to the public will render the patent unpatentable. 

Puma appealed to the evidence presented, noting that the quality of Rihanna’s posts on Instagram were insufficient to reveal features of the shoe design. The Court disagreed as they believed the images clearly outline intricate details of the shoe, such as its laces and sole. RIhanna’s fame was also cited to be a reason for the final decision, as the general public may and will make keen observations of clothing items worn by the pop star. 

Puma has yet to appeal to the European Union’s Court of Justice for the time being.

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