The Finnish textile and clothing company Marimekko announced recently that it reached a settlement with Dolce & Gabbana S.r.L. and Dolce & Gabbana Industria S.p.A. over the use of its trademarked Unikko floral design pattern.

Marimekko's Unikko Design - (photo courtesy of Marimekko)

D&G Dolce & Gabbana Poppy Print Dress - (photo courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman)

Earlier this year, Marimekko claimed that Dolce & Gabbana had used the Unikko floral design on its products without permission. Dolce & Gabbana responded with a proceeding before the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) seeking nullification of Marimekko's Unikko trademark, which was withdrawn.

Marimekko also had filed suit against Dolce & Gabbana in the District Court of Hamburg to stop it from selling products with the Unikko trademark. Marimekko successfully obtained an injunction, preventing Dolce & Gabbana from selling and marketing certain products in Germany. The two companies have now agreed, as part of the settlement, to drop all legal proceedings regarding the Unikko trademark.

Marimekko's Unikko poppy pattern was created in 1964 by Marimekko designer Maija Isola. The trademark became one of Marimekko's most popular source-identifying designs, and is still highly sought after.

Marimekko filed for trademark registration for its Unikko design with the OHIM on May 20, 2003. Its Unikko "Community Trademark," or CTM, was registered on March 27, 2006. A CTM is protected for a period of ten years from the date of filing for registration and can be renewed indefinitely for periods of 10 years. Unikko also is a registered trademark in Norway and the United States. In 2008, Groth & Co. awarded Marimekko the 2008 SIGNUM Prize for its excellent trademark management and protection.

This case illustrates the numerous advantages and protections that trademark registration affords fashion textile and apparel designers. Not only was Marimekko able to obtain an injunction against Dolce & Gabbana for the selling and marketing of certain products in Germany, but it also was able to pursue other legal remedies based upon its registrations, which ultimately led to the final settlement between the companies.

By registering a United States trademark, designers and textile manufacturers can strengthen their rights in trademark infringement actions brought in federal court. Registrants are given a legal presumption of trademark ownership. Registering trademarks with the United States Customs Service also facilitates the seizure of illegal counterfeit goods at the United States borders.