Barbour sues Levi’s for being a “trademark bully”

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Barbour responded to numerous threats from Levi’s and has launched a preemptive lawsuit against the brand calling it a “trademark bully”.

Levi’s has reportedly issued a cease and desist letter to Barbour over its use of “Barbour flag” tab labels, branded labels protruding from garments which Barbour says it has been using for 20 years.

The San Francisco-based denim giant owns a trademark for red, white and blue tabs, which its designed in the 1930s. The letter said it believed all Barbour flags were “infringing products”.

In response, the English fashion retailer and brand has gone on the offensive, issuing a complaint in the New York Federal Court that various other fashion brands including H&M, Vans, Volcom and Carhartt include tabs in their designs.

It added that Levi’s was “one of the most litigious apparel companies in the US, if not the world.

“It has a well-deserved reputation as a trademark ‘bully’, having filed more than 300 trademark lawsuits since 1989.”

Law firm Stevens & Bolton’s senior associate and IP specialist Elaine O’Hare said: “Levi’s, Adidas and most recently Christian Louboutin have developed a particular reputation for pushing the boundaries of trademark protection; seeking to cover aspects of designs in which it might previously have been thought impossible to obtain a monopoly.

“The cycle of fashion is moving ever-faster, with high street replicas of catwalk designs appearing within days and many trends coming and going within months.

“It’s not surprising therefore that brands and designers are putting greater effort into protecting their primary brand names and the overarching features which are common to all of their products.

“However, there are limits and so it will be interesting to see which way the court goes in this case.”

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