Low-price sports shoes not confusingly similar to Puma's shoes, says court

The Maritime and Commercial Court has issued its decision in Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport v Coop Danmark A/S (Case V-72-07, November 20 2009).
Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport obtained an interim injunction against major Danish supermarket chain Coop Danmark A/S and subsequently sued the chain before the Maritime and Commercial Court in order to justify the injunction.
Puma claimed that the stripes on the sides of some of the sports shoes sold by Coop in its supermarkets violated Puma's rights in two Danish trademark registrations for similar stripes.
Coop explained that it had bought 3,000 pairs of shoes and had sold 2,600 pairs. The original price charged in its supermarkets was Dkr199, which was later reduced to Dkr75.
The court found in favour of Coop, holding that the stripes on the shoes sold in its supermarkets were not confusingly similar to Puma's stripes. The court stated that although the application on Coop's shoes might look like Puma's device mark, there were a number of differences, including:
  • the lines on Coop's shoes were not dotted; and
  • one of the three lines branched off from the others and led separately to the sole of the shoe.
The court also stated that Puma's shoes:
  • had a smart design;
  • were manufactured from quality materials; and
  • were sold in sports and lifestyle shops in quality packaging at a price of approximately Dkr700 to Dkr1,500.
In contrast, the court stated that Coop's shoes:
  • had a less sophisticated design;
  • had been manufactured using materials of inferior quality; and
  • were sold for a price of between Dkr75 and Dkr120 in supermarkets, where they were hung as off-the-peg shoes which consumers had to place in their shopping carts.
In addition, market research had shown that consumers regarded Coop's shoes as unbranded products that were not significantly similar to Puma's shoes or other branded shoes, particularly when they were made aware of the price.
Consequently, the court found in favour of Coop and invalidated the injunction. The court ordered that Puma pay Coop an estimated Dkr100,000 for loss and injury caused by the illegal injunction, and a further Dkr200,000 in costs to cover Coop's expenses to lawyers and its market survey.
Mads Marstrand-Jorgensen, Norsker & Co, Copenhagen

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