Supreme Court decision puts an end to 20-year-old dispute


A decision of the Supreme Court has put to an end 20 years of legal wrangling over a much older issue.

Renaud Cointreau & Cie has operated the famous French Cordon Bleu cookery school since 1895.

Renaud Cointreau claimed to have established a particular style of cooking and trained many people from all over the world, including one Lourdes Dayrit.

Meanwhile, Ecole de Cuisine Manille Inc, a business run by Ms Dayrit, operated a restaurant business and had been using the CORDON BLEU mark since 1948 in the Philippines.

Renaud Cointreau filed an application for its CORDON BLEU trademark in 1993, but Ecole de Cuisine Manille filed an opposition - and so started 20 years of legal wrangling. The opposition was decided in 2006 and Ecole de Cuisine Manille won as first registrant. Renaud Cointreau then appealed to the Director General, who accepted the appeal. Ecole de Cuisine Manille appealed to the Court of Appeal and, subsequently, to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ultimately decided for Renaud Cointreau on the basis of its long use and fame, and on the ground that Ecole de Cuisine Manille had no legitimate explanation for its use of the mark. The court affirmed that first registration must be by the legitimate owner of the mark, as a matter of fairness.

Nick Redfearn, Rouse, Indonesia

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