Brandikaran | Balenciaga Gets Hit With Lawsuit For Ripping Off Iconic Air Freshener Design
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Balenciaga Gets Hit With Lawsuit For Ripping Off Iconic Air Freshener Design

Balenciaga Gets Hit With Lawsuit For Ripping Off Iconic Air Freshener Design -

Balenciaga Gets Hit With Lawsuit For Ripping Off Iconic Air Freshener Design

Balenciaga has been hit with a lawsuit for ripping off a renowned design belonging to the famous CAR-FRESHENER Corporation for its US$275 keychain.

The lawsuit, filed by CAR-FRESHENER Corporation and Julius Sämann Ltd. in a New York federal court, states that the luxury brand has received a trademark infringement claim for selling tree-shaped keychains that resemble CAR-FRESHENER’s ‘Little Trees’ design. ‘Little Trees’ is famous in American culture thanks to its 66-year heritage.

The plaintiffs claim that Balenciaga was aware of the famous ‘Tree Design Mark’, which it has incorporated into its keychains. Balenciaga’s product description that states the items represent “Car freshener inspiration” leaves little ambiguity behind the source of inspiration for the violated design.

The plaintiffs add that the shape of Balenciaga’s keychain is exactly the same as the dimensions of its ‘Little Trees’ air freshener and that the luxury brand has even copied the colors associated with the air fresheners’ scents. With that, the plaintiffs branded such conduct as “intentional[ly] betray[ing] the plaintiffs’ trademark rights.”

While the design is best associated with air fresheners, the plaintiffs explained that the design has been used in connection with other additional goods, which has benefited from the association of the ‘Tree Design Marks’, such as luggage tags, key rings, greeting cards and water bottles, to name a few. Recently, CAR-FRESHENER granted license for use of the design to renowned designer Anya Hindmarch, for incorporation into her high quality handbag hang tags.

The use of the trademarked design across all channels helps to bolster CAR-FRESHENER Corporation and its unauthorized use is likely to cause confusion or mislead the public into thinking that Balenciaga’s products are associated with those of the plaintiffs.

Seeing as how there has been a rise in collaborations between fashion and non-fashion brands—for example, Balenciaga and the World Food Programme—such partnerships might complicate the current situation between Balenciaga and CAR-FRESHENER Corporation. Consumers might believe that the Balenciaga keychain is the result of a partnership between these two companies.

The plaintiffs are now seeking injunctive relief and depending on the outcome of the lawsuit, could lead to a ban on Balenciaga from manufacturing and distributing the infringed product. On top of that, the plaintiffs are seeking for monetary damages including profits made by Balenciaga through the sale of the keychains.

Left: Balenciaga Right: Little Trees 

Left: Balenciaga Right: Little Trees 

[via The Fashion Law, opening image via Balenciaga, Little Trees ]

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