Famous French shoemaker JM WESTON recently obtained from the Court of Appeals of Paris a judgment condemning DR MARTENS E-COMMERCE LLC and AIRWAIR INTERNATIONAL LTD (hereinafter DR MARTENS) for trademark infringement and unfair competition (1).
The case was quite classic, somehow very simple. On the one hand, WESTON is a registered trademark in France in connection with shoes (2). On the other hand, DR MARTENS official web sites were selling “Weston” shoes or “Wasp Weston 7 Tie Boot” shoes to French consumers.
Trademark infringement was hardly disputable. The Court of Appeals of Paris did what it had to do and judged that such acts were contrary to Articles L.713-2 and L.713-3 of the French Intellectual Property Code, respectively sanctioning reproduction and imitation of a registered trademark.
What puzzles us is why the First Instance Court of Paris did not do what it had to do. We could not obtain and read that decision but WESTON claims for trademark infringement were fully dismissed in first trial. And there is no clue in the appeal decision to explain why such a first ruling. And yet, it is quite an issue because the same case giving rise to such opposite decisions is perfect material for the Cour de cassation, the French Highest Civil Court, in hope of a final say. And that would mean another year or two of legal battle for the parties (3).
On the positive side, we observe that neither the First Instance Court nor the Court of Appeals cancelled the bailiff’s reports evidencing the infringement, despite DR MARTENS claims. It is worth noting that French judges do not seem to be prejudiced against such reports when made on the internet while they become more and more useful with the growth of online commerce (4).
(1) Court of Appeals of Paris, Section 5-2, 25 September 2015, JM Weston / Dr Martens E-Commerce LLC, Airwair International LTD et al.
(2) Trademarks at stake were actually WESTON and JM WESTON.
(3) There are words according to which DR MARTENS expressed its intention to file a request before the Cour de cassation.
(4) See also our article Seizing presumed counterfeit goods on the internet is (almost) possible!