On July 22, 2011 a bombing of government buildings in Oslo resulted in eight deaths. On the same day a mass shooting at a camp of the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) of the Labour Party on the island of Utøya killed 69 people, mostly teenagers. The person held responsible is Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist.
One photo of Breivik travelled the world: arrested and sitting in a police car, wearing a red polo shirt by Lacoste. In another (in)famous photo he is wearing a black Lacoste sweater.
The French brand was not amused and contacted the Norwegian Justice Department, demanding that Breivik was forbidden to wear Lacoste clothing at the upcoming trial.
It remains the question weather or not this is a smart move by Lacoste. Without looking at the legal merits of the case, the fact that Lacoste is making such a big deal out of this, is attracting even more attention to the matter. We are also writing about it, right?
In Holland there was a similar case. Right-wing extremist teenagers were using their LONSDALE branded clothing as a symbol: the middle letters NSDA form the abbreviation of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Adolf Hitler later became the leader of this party.
A valuable IP lesson can be learned here: “You can protect a trademark, but you cannot protect a brand.”
Sometimes is better to lay low and hope for things to pass.
With thanks to Annemieke Booij & Sandra van Dongen (Knijff Trademark Attorneys).
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