Gucci and Guess have agreed to end a global legal battle in an agreement “which will result in the conclusion of all pending intellectual property litigations and trademark office matters worldwide.” In a joint statement, the two parties said: 'The agreement is an important step for both companies in recognizing the significance of protecting their respective intellectual property portfolios and design creativity.' The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The global battle started when luxury brand Gucci accused Guess of perpetrating a “massive trademark infringement scheme.” Gucci filed suit against Guess in 2009 in federal court in New York, claiming specifically that the interlocking “G” print trademarks used on many of the Guess brand’s accessories infringed Gucci’s iconic “G” print trademarks. Gucci succeeded in the case, with the judge awarding Gucci a permanent injunction against the use of three of four disputed designs by Guess. However, the victory was a Pyrrhic one as the judge awarded Gucci damages of $450,000, somewhat less than the $221 million damages sought.
Following this injunction, Gucci went on a global quest and filed lawsuits against Guess on the same grounds in Italy, Australia, China, and France, and initiated proceedings with the European Union (“EU”) Intellectual Property Office, which ended up before courts in the EU. The EU General Court and judgements in Milan and Paris all sided with Guess, while in Asia Gucci came out top. The Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court held that infringement cases hinged on whether the marks look subjectively similar, not the usual grounds of consumer confusion. Whatever confusion has resulted these past nine years has now been cleared up, at least in the legal view of the two protagonists.