Sport shoes not found to infringe Puma’s form strip trademark

Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport vs. Coop Danmark A/S, the Supreme Court.

Puma has manufactured sport and leisure shoes using its form strip trademark since 1958 and the form strip trademark has been registered in Denmark since 1977 respectively 1984. From 1999 to 2002 Puma sold its Avanti shoe. In 2002 and 2003, Coop, a major retailer, sold 12,408 pairs of its JFY Retro shoes using the same color combination as the Avanti Shoe and an appliqué on the side of the shoe. The parties were in agreement that Puma’s form strip has a reputation in Denmark.

The Court stated that use of appliqués on side of shoes is common and that such appliqués shall enjoy a low degree of protection. The Supreme Court found, as opposite to the Maritime and Commercial Court, that the appliqué of the defendant differed sufficiently from Puma’s form strip.

Further, the Court stated that Puma’s shoe has a low degree of distinctiveness and therefore only enjoyed protection against slavish imitations under the Danish Marketing Act. The Court found that the defendant’s shoe differed sufficiently from the plaintiff’s shoe and consequently the sale of the JFY Retro shoe did neither constitute trademark infringement nor a violation of good marketing practices.

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