Intellectual property: legal battle between Napapijri and Geographical Norway

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It is a legal conflict which denotes the importance that brands give to their territory. Napapijri, brand of the American group VF Corp, and the Geographical Norway brand of the French group Artextyl are currently in legal proceedings. The object of the tensions? In particular the use of the Norwegian flag on Geographical Norway products. The case is still in progress but the two players are defending their positions.

VF Corp claims today that the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has obtained the cancellation of the registration of the mark “Geographical Norway”. This is refuted by Artextyl, which points to a “disloyal and denigrating” statement, and judges that the words of the Italian brand “illicitly seriously undermine its brands and products”.

Napapijri criticizes Geographical Norway in particular for the use of the Norwegian flag, also used for its own products – Geographical Norway

Contacted by FashionNetwork, Artextyl’s legal representatives express their intention to appeal this judgment to the General Court of the European Union. And recalls that a first judgment of EUIPO had on March 7, 2019 rejected the nullity requests of VF Corp.

“It is therefore first of all absolutely inaccurate that VF International would have won a dispute, since the dispute concerning the registration of the Geopraphical Norway trademarks is not over,” said Artextyl’s lawyer, in response to the communication by VF Corp. “These decisions also do not rule on the possibility of continuing the use of the Geopgraphical Norway trademarks. No prohibition has been pronounced by EUIPO which has no competence to do so, nor by any other court. in the world. It is therefore also absolutely incorrect that VF International would have won a legal proceeding banning the allegedly misuse of its trademarks. Indeed, a proceeding is underway but no decision has yet been rendered! “

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The use of the Norwegian flag by Geographical Norway used by Napapijri for its own products is not the only point of tension. The flag is featured on the Italian brand’s “Napapijri Geographic” line of clothing and bags. It is the proximity of names and symbols that have therefore pushed the American giant VF Corp to initiate legal proceedings in order to “prohibit the misuse of its trademarks”.

“It is in a perfectly abusive way that VF International indicates that” Geographical Norway “would constitute similar marks, in particular because of the Norwegian flag”, indicates to us the lawyer of Artextyl. “Indeed, the Intellectual Property Code and the Paris Convention prohibit any protection of a flag as a trademark, so that no one can claim a right in a flag and, a fortiori, request the condemnation of a third party for the use of said flag “.

French audience on July 27

Beyond the European decision, the case continues on French territory where other legal procedures are underway with the Paris court. Napapijri indicates that it wants to “obtain an injunction against the infringement constituted by the Geographical Norway products”.

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Artextyl also tells us for its part to have taken legal action to obtain the penalty sentence of the company VF International “to cease the dissemination of denigrating information against him”. A plea whose date has been set for July 27.

Created in 1995 around the specialist brand of Anapurna sleeved pieces, the French outdoor specialist group Artextyl launched Geographical Norway in 2005. A brand which has become, explains the company, the group’s “real growth accelerator”. which also owns the Ushuaïa brand. The court decisions on this case therefore represent a heavy stake for society.

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