Lacoste trademark victory

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 12:00am

French fashion giant Lacoste won its trademark battle against Hong Kong clothes firm Crocodile Garments yesterday over use of the crocodile logo on the mainland.

The Court of First Instance ordered the local firm to withdraw all its trademark applications from the mainland.

La Chemise Lacoste SA claimed Crocodile Garments Ltd had breached an agreement when it registered on the mainland a crocodile emblem 'confusingly similar' to Lacoste's.

The two companies signed three agreements in 1980 granting Crocodile Garments exclusive rights to the logo for distribution of Lacoste goods in Hong Kong.

In exchange, according to Lacoste, Crocodile Garments agreed not to apply outside Hong Kong to register trademarks similar to Lacoste's logo.

The Lacoste logo is a crocodile in a curled posture with its head facing right, while Crocodile Garments' emblem faces left.

But Crocodile Garments, which registered its trademark crocodile in Hong Kong in 1910, denied it had given up rights to register outside Hong Kong.

Mr Justice Andrew Chung On-tak found in Lacoste's favour yesterday.

He said Lacoste's concession in letting Crocodile Garments use the emblem in Hong Kong was, in essence, an arrangement to 'carve-up' the market.

'If Crocodile Garments' argument is correct, the net result would be that Lacoste has, in effect, given up its rights to use of the emblem in Hong Kong but obtained no concession whatsoever regarding the use of Crocodile Garments' mark outside Hong Kong.

'Such a result would, to say the least, be unreasonable,' Mr Justice Chung said.

He ordered Crocodile Garments to withdraw the mainland registration of its logo and issued an injunction against it making similar applications in future.

The judge did not award any damages to Lacoste because no evidence regarding financial loss had been submitted.

Crocodile Garments refused to comment on the decision.