After years of biting their proverbial nails over the eerily similar logo’s on Guess products which sell for a fraction of what top-shelf luxury label Gucci’s wears go for, they decided to handle business the American way and sued them in court. After a particularly nasty court battle that involved tears and finger pointing a judge finally handed down the anticipated verdict. Game over right? Not When Gucci is involved.
According to WWD, in the lawsuit Gucci accused Guess? Inc. of copying their interlocking G logo, their red-striped color scheme, and their "shading" patterns, among other things. Since one of the main sources of gripe was with Guess’s sneakers, they quite unfairly dumped most of the doo-doo on their footwear licensee Marc Fisher Footwear. Not cool Guess, not cool. The trial eventually proved to be more entertaining than an episode of Maury.
Gucci accused Guess and their Footwear licensee Marc Fisher of conspiring to knock off Gucci products. The lawyers for Gucci offered some pretty dramatic opening arguments at the start of the trial, “It’s about a massive, complicated scheme to knock off Gucci’s best-known and iconic designs.” Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Guess, said in his opening remarks that of 1,495 Guess products Gucci claimed were infringing, 99 percent “could never be confused with Gucci,” adding, “The numbers don’t add up. If there was a scheme, it failed miserably.”
Regardless, Fisher was eventually called to testify and with tears welling in his eyes, grilled about each and every design element of the sneakers in question. "I never noticed the shading,” Fisher said repeatedly, growing exasperated. "I don’t understand why we’re spending 45 minutes discussing shading." He was visibly shaken at the questions, explaining that Marc Fisher Footwear had been around longer that Guess, and that marring his name in this suit would undoubtedly hurt or even destroy the business his family has nurtured through the years. Paul Vando, a former director of men’s product at Marc Fisher, says that the resemblance of Guess's sneaker design to Gucci's was "absolutely not" meant to confuse customers.
Guess CEO Paul Marciano was also taken to task about the interlocking Quattro G’s that makeup their logo. Marciano explained that Guess sourced its ideas from all sorts of brands. A process that involved drawing inspiration from Gucci's work, but not exclusively; Marciano noted, "That's what design is." Even the courtroom itself served a purpose, he went on to say that the courtroom’s green and gold carpet could also become an inspiration for him and the Guess team. "[We Could] change the colors, tweak the pattern, and put it on a handbag."
Ultimately Gucci was asking the judge for $221 million dollars in damages for trademark violations AKA all those precious Gucci bags that people did not buy opting for the $49.99 version at Guess. Ultimately the judge agreed with Gucci but awarded them a nominal $4.7 million, far below what they wanted.
But like a petulant child, Gucci just can’t seem to let this go and to prove their point, just filed lawsuits against Guess in China, Italy and France. It is clear Gucci is simply looking for reimbursement, which they do not believe was fulfilled by winning the $4.7 million. Paul Marciano responded that he had pled with Guess to settle out of court for the first time and was still open to do so.
LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), Gucci’s parent company is also the keeper of other luxury brands such as Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Donna Karan, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Guerlain, TAG Heuer, Bulgari and Sephora. LVMH also own luxury labels in the wine and spirits category such as, Moët et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Hennessey, Belvedere, Domaine Chandon California and Château d'Yquem.
Guess is not the only brand to have “taken inspiration” from luxury labels, H&M, went ahead and cherry-picked the best pieces from Victoria Beckham, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton they liked for their spring collection.
Image VIA Zimbio
Guess CEO Paul Marciano, Claudia Schiffer and Ellen Von Unwerth attend the ‘Guess? 30th Anniversary Celebration’ at Hotel George V on May 3, 2012 in Paris, France