Lacoste wins crocodile trademark battle in New Zealand

The Lacoste logo. Photo / Supplied
The Lacoste logo. Photo / Supplied

A cold-blooded battle between two fashion labels over which one can lay claim to a crocodile trademark in New Zealand has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

An ongoing tussle between Lacoste and Crocodile International came to an end in New Zealand in February when the Court of Appeal upheld a previous decision in Lacoste's favour.

Crocodile International has also been ordered to cover costs for the appeal.

Both clothing companies use a logo with a picture of a crocodile and have argued around the globe about who gets to lay claim to it in various countries.

An ongoing tussle between Lacoste and Crocodile International has come to an end in New Zealand. Photo / File
An ongoing tussle between Lacoste and Crocodile International has come to an end in New Zealand. Photo / File

The two companies have battled for decades here and abroad, with occasional truces.

In February 2015, Justice David Collins overturned the assistant commissioner of trademarks' decision, which had found in Crocodile International's favour.

In 2008, Crocodile said Lacoste had not genuinely used that trademark and wanted it revoked, which the assistant commissioner agreed with.

Lacoste appealed this reversal of the decision, with lawyer D A Laurenson arguing Justice Collins was mistaken because he incorrectly identified the "essential elements" of Lacoste's trademark.

However, the Court of Appeal was satisfied Justice Collins' identification was correct, saying the crocodile image was the "central idea and message" of the logo, not the word crocodile or the combination of the word and logo.

"As we put it to Mr Laurenson, it is all about the crocodile," the decision read.

Following last year's High Court decision to overturn the assistant commissioner's decision, Julian Miles, QC, lawyer for French fashion giant Lacoste, said in New Zealand, the crocodile belonged to Lacoste.

"Crocodile International is never going to be able to register a crocodile mark in New Zealand because it would inevitably be found ... to be misleading."

Mr Miles said Crocodile was not even currently trading in New Zealand so Lacoste was not blocking its rival "from doing anything it wouldn't otherwise be able to do".

- NZ Herald

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