“I create so that each and every woman is the most beautiful“ – a quote from Christian Dior that epitomized his great appreciation of beauty, which naturally extended to his work as well.

Even though Christian Dior passed away a long time ago, his name still evokes the same grandeur nowadays. Everything – from watches to make-up, perfume, sunglasses, ready-to-wear clothes, and haute couture – that bears Dior’s name is instantly recognized as a product of prestige and elegance. The Dior brand and identity has come to be defined by its good quality and exceptional designs.

It is no different in Indonesia, where Dior’s fame is reflected in the number of Dior outlets in upscale malls around Jakarta and other big cities in Indonesia. Like other famous international brands, Dior has had its fair share of trademark issues in Indonesia, including one that occurred recently.

The case began when Dior discovered the registration of the trademark BABY DIOR, owned by Kimsan Purwo and Kiman Purwo for goods in class 12, particularly for bicycles. Dior was not too pleased with the existence of said registration and filed a cancellation lawsuit at the Commercial Court in Jakarta. The lawsuit was based on the alleged bad faith of the owners, Kimsan Purwo and Kiman Purwo, in using the word DIOR for their trademark.

The Commercial Court in its decision, rejected the cancellation lawsuit filed by Dior. During the trial, Kimsan Purwo and Kiman Purwo claimed that the trademark was actually an acronym of “Benar-benar Ada, Bagus, Yahud, Dia Itu Orang Riang”, an Indonesian phrase which came to them when they were discussing their bicycle business one day and saw some children playing happily and with their bicycles. The Judges believed the BABY DIORtrademark was not similar and would not mislead the public as the classes and types of goods differed from Dior’s core business.

Unsurprisingly, Dior was not satisfied with the decision made by the Commercial Court, and filed a cassation to the Supreme Court. However, Dior’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Dior has roughly 75 registrations of the DIOR mark and its variations in several classes in Indonesia, but none registered in class 12. Dior has also not registered BABY DIOR in Indonesia, despite having products for children and newborns called “BABY DIOR. Perhaps the decision of the Commercial Court and the Supreme Court would have differed if Dior had registered DIOR in class 12, or registered BABY DIOR in any other related classes.

While this was an unfortunate outcome for Dior, what we can take away from this case is that companies should not rely solely on the reputation or goodwill of its trademarks to ward off competitors or potential infringers as the legal system in certain countries may not be as proactive in the protection of well-known marks.

To ensure that the companies obtain adequate protection for all the marks that they use in the marketing and distribution of their goods or services, the safest option still lies in the registration of their trademarks in the relevant classes and for the relevant goods/services.