Losing your shirt?

The fashion brand Japan Rags – part of the brand Le Temps des Cerises – claims the culture of vintage “made in Japan”. But how authentic is it when the use other famous brands on their t-shirts?

Japan Rags claims its look at men’s fashion is to mix codes with the love for denim. The material is worked and shaped to give each model a specific character and authencity. MarkMatters.com just had a look at their t-shirt collection. We were quite surprised.

Three of the t-shirts contain famous logo’s that are changed in a way that they now contain the brand name Japan Rags. But it is very clear to recognize the Starbucks logo, the Rolls Royce logo and an Apple-Pac Man combo.

It is very arguable that this is not to be considered ‘use as a trademark‘, as it merely is used as ‘decoration’. However, this does not mean this is not infringement. Especially in the Benelux, where we have a special article in the Trademark Law forbidding this kind of (ab)use. As long as it tarnishes the reputation of distinctive character of the trademark in question, it is unlawful. This might very well be the case. Moreover, because it concerns famous trademarks (at least Starbucks and Rolls Royce).

We wonder if any objections are raised. Sometimes it is better to let things go. By the time it is spring, there will be a new collection anyway.

To be continued?

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Knijff Merkenadviseurs


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