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Maison Margiela's numeric trademark is rejected by EUIPO

By Don-Alvin Adegeest



Image: Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela, the luxury label recognisable by its discreet four garment label stitches and its numeric logo, has seen the sequence of its numbers 0 to 23 as a trademark rejected by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The EUIPO’s decision clarifies that a pattern, whether numerical or otherwise, must be capable of indicating the commercial origin of the goods and services to be eligible for trademark registration.

In 2021, Maison Margiela sought to register the numerical mark for various products and services, according to legal blog IPKat, however, last year the EUIPO Examiner rejected the application, citing a lack of distinctive character. The Examiner argued that consumers would perceive the mark as a product listing or article number, rather than an indicator of commercial origin.

Maison Margiela appealed the decision, citing previous case law that allowed the registration of signs composed exclusively of numerals without graphic modifications.

The Board of Appeal, however, determined that the sequence of numbers from 0 to 23, when applied to the goods and services such as fashion and retail, would not be easily recognised by the relevant public as a distinctive sign. Instead, it would likely be seen as a non-distinctive sequence of numbers. The Board emphasised that consumers are accustomed to long sequences of numbers on internal code tags, invoices, and catalogs, which do not indicate commercial origin.

This decision underscores the requirement for patterns, including numerical ones, to possess memorable or eye-catching features that differentiate them from mere decorative elements or internal tagging, notes a commentary from IPKat. Complexity or fancifulness alone may not establish distinctiveness.

The ruling serves as a reminder for European Trademark (EUTM) applicants and designers regarding the challenges of proving acquired distinctiveness, as seen in previous cases like Louis Vuitton's Damier Azur pattern.

Maison Margiela