The Italian company Piaggio has recently won a case before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) regarding its iconic design for the “Vespa” scooter.
The Vespa model in question, the Primavera, was protected by both a design registered for its shape back in 2013, a three-dimensional trade mark and by artistic copyright.
The dispute began at the 2019 “Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori”, more commonly known by its acronym EICMA, a world-famous annual motorcycle trade Show held in Milan. EICMA regularly draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and is frequently used by manufacturers to show off new models.
At this EICMA show, two scooter models from Chinese companies Motolux and Dayi Motor, drew particular attention for their similarity to the Primavera model. Alerted to this, Piaggio traced the registration of a new design with the EUIPO for the same motorcycles by a Chinese manufacturer.
On the basis of their existing IP portfolio, Piaggio were able to successfully petition the EUIPO to invalidate the Chinese company’s design on the basis that it was a clear infringement. On the 25 May 2020, the EUIPO agreed and stated that the design in question was “unable to elicit a general impression different from the registered design” of the Primavera and should therefore be removed from the register.
This case goes to show the importance of curating a multi-faceted IP portfolio including designs as well as trade marks for your products. It also goes to show that aggressive policing is vital: Piaggio makes no secret of the fact that it continually monitors international trade mark and design databases and that they have been successful in over 50 similar invalidation proceedings in the last two years alone.
Here at Briffa, the team benefits from over 25 years’ experience filing both trade marks and registered design in nearly every jurisdiction in the world. We are able to assist in all aspects of securing Intellectual Property rights from initial filing to registration and, where necessary, entering into litigation to protect those rights on your behalf. If you need any further information in this regard please do feel free to get in touch with us via [email protected]
Written by Tom Synott, Solicitor