Lacoste bites back in crocodile logo court battle

The iconic Lacoste brand was founded in 1933 by tennis champion Rene Lacoste

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Sportswear giant Lacoste won EU court backing on Wednesday to block a Polish competitor from snapping up a variant of the crocodile logo it upheld as the French firm’s trademark.

The General Court of the European Union, the bloc’s second highest court, ruled that the caiman logo that Mocek and Wenta sought to register in the 28-nation EU was similar enough to Lacoste’s iconic sign as to cause confusion.

“The general court considers that the repute of the Lacoste crocodile is such as to prevent the registration of the crocodile or caiman figures for leather goods, clothing and footwear,” it said in a statement.

Backing Lacoste, the EU’s trademark office OHIM rejected Mocek and Wenta’s 2007 application to register its logo of a head, spiked tail and the word caiman as the torso for leather goods, clothing and footwear.

The general court found that the two signs have at least an “average degree of similarity” as both show a type of crocodile.

“There is a likelihood of confusion, given that the general public is likely to believe that the goods bearing the signs at issue come from the same undertaking or from economically-linked undertakings,” the court said.

“The court considers that the representation of the Mocek and Wenta caiman might be perceived as a variant of the representation of the Lacoste crocodile, the latter being widely known to the public,” it added.

The iconic Lacoste brand was founded in 1933 by tennis champion Rene Lacoste.