Use of Chanel trademarks on urn constitutes trademark infringement

Chanel S.A. vs. Begravelsesservice ApS, the Maritime and Commercial Court

The French fashion house Chanel owns and uses a large number of trademarks in Denmark, among others the trademarks CHANEL and COCO.

Begravelsesservice is a funeral service firm, which in 2004 developed a new con¬cept with “individually designed funerals” and in connection herewith initiated a co-operation with a designer, Gitte Hansen.

Gitte Hansen explained that she had decorated urns with different motives and logos, among others the COCO CHANEL logo, which was exhibited in the funeral service firm. The urn was owned by Gitte Hansen and not offered for sale.

In June 2004 a Danish newspaper brought an article about the “individually designed funerals” and a national news channel covered among others the marketing of the funeral service firm, and showed the COCO CHANEL urn.

The Court stated that the funeral service firm had not obtained Chanel’s consent to use the Chanel trademarks on the urn, and that the COCO CHANEL urn was exhibited together with other urns in the funeral service firm.

The Court could not disregard the testimony of Gitte Hansen that the urn was not for sale, but as the COCO CHANEL urn was showed in the news it has been used for publicity with a significant marketing value. Irrespective that the news coverage was at the initiative of the news channel, the marketing value hereof must have been obvious to the funeral service firm.

Consequently, the Court found that the funeral service firm had made commercial use of the Chanel’s trademarks, and that such use had been detrimental to Chanel’s reputation. The funeral service firm was ordered to cease use of the Chanel trademarks and to pay compensation with DKK 25,000 (approx. EUR 3,300).

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