The power of a well-managed and promoted ‘uber brand’ can stop competition in a field in which it is less obviously known. 

The recent ATMO decision of Louis Vuitton Malletier v WinWorld Australia Pty Ltd [2013] ATMO 46 (12 June 2013) highlights the breadth and extent of reputation that can become associated with high-end luxury brands. The case involved the Opponent, Louis Vuitton Malletier, establishing a reputation in VUITTON solus, in order to successfully oppose an application for the following logo mark including the term AUSTER VUITTON in relation to various alcoholic beverages in Class 33:

The Opponent pointed to the reputation of Louis Vuitton dating back 100 years before the priority date of the opposed AUSTER VUITTON application, and submitted that its trade mark is amongst one of the most recognised brands in the world. LOUIS VUITTON has been named one of the most valuable luxury brands for several years in a row, and was estimated in 2012 as being worth almost US$26 billion.

The Opponent’s evidence also included:

  • details of the Opponent’s long history of sponsorship of events;
  • searches showing that the term VUITTON on its own was used widely by industry and consumers to refer to the Opponent;
  • internet search results showing that, other than the commercial activities of the Opponent, there are no other commercial activities in Australia relating to the name VUITTON;
  • details of luxury items made by the Opponent for the carriage or storage of goods used in the consumption of alcoholic beverages; and
  • details that the Opponent’s parent company,  LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, is renowned for the manufacture and marketing of wines and spirits such as Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon.

The Hearings Officer was swayed by the evidence and submissions of the Opponent.

He agreed that consumers seeing or hearing the AUSTER VUITTON mark for the nominated goods  would be caused to wonder whether there is a connection between the Applicant’s AUSTER VUITTON trade mark and the Opponent, or whether the nominated goods were, in fact, those of the Opponent.