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EU Court upholds validity of Community design in Puma v Fujian Shoes dispute

Post Time:2024-05-21 Source:ec.europa.eu Author: Views:

In a recent judgment of 8 May 2024 (T‑758/22), the General Court of the European Union dealt with a design dispute involving the well-known Puma brand and the validity of a Community design for a shoe.

The parties in this case are Puma SE and Fujian Daocheng Electronic Commerce Co. of China.

On 21 April 2021, Puma SE filed an application for a declaration of invalidity of a Community design registered in 2020 by Fujian Daocheng Electronic Commerce Co. Ltd. for a shoe design (N. 008367742). The invalidity claim was based on a lack of individual character of the shoe design when compared to earlier designs already registered by Puma (N. 1286116-0005) and some products it was already selling. However, both the Invalidity Division and the Board of Appeal of the EUIPO rejected the application on the grounds that the overall impression of the designs would be different for the informed user, defined as someone who regularly buys shoes and pays a relatively high level of attention.

Faced with this situation, the German company appealed to the General Court of the European Union, which had to decide whether the design in question had a singular character and was sufficiently different from PUMA's earlier designs to warrant protection.

As regards the singularity of the design, the General Court found that, despite certain similarities, such as the outer sole, the main differences, such as the decoration of the body of the shoe, the low-cut collar and the characteristics of the sole, were sufficient to create a distinctive overall impression. Therefore, the Court upheld the decision of the EUIPO’s Board of Appeal and dismissed Puma’s appeal, holding that the disputed shoe design was unique and had significant differences from the previous designs, which justified its protection as a valid Community design.