Green light for Chinese manufacturer’s scooter design as EU court dismisses Vespa infringement claims
Art Law

Green light for Chinese manufacturer’s scooter design as EU court dismisses Vespa infringement claims

In a judgment handed down on 24 September 2019, the General Court of the European Union has ruled that intellectual property rights in the iconic Vespa LX scooter have not been infringed by Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang and that its own motorcycle product produces a different overall impression to informed consumers. The background to the case dates back to 2010, when Zhejiang Zhongneng Industry Group registered the following design (the ‘Zhejiang scooter’)as a Community design at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO): In 2014, Piaggio & C filed an application for a declaration of invalidity of that design at the EUIPO, claiming that the Zhejiang scooter lacked novelty and individual character in light of the ‘Vespa LX’ scooter design (see images below), first made available in 2005 and incorporating the lines and shape characteristics of the famous Vespa motorcycle, an icon of Italian design since 1945. Piaggio also argued that the Vespa LX scooter was protected in Italy as an unregistered three-dimensional trade mark and, in France and Italy, as a copyrighted work. In 2015 (and confirmed in 2018), the EUIPO dismissed Piaggio’s request for a declaration of invalidity. Piaggio subsequently appealed to the General Court of the European […]

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