Perhaps nothing is more revered and passionately guarded in the world of fashion than trademarks and intellectual property. And even if legal disputes between major companies and individual designers occasionally break out, they frequently result in stalemate, there are some cases that stand out for their cleverness or peculiarity. One of them is the legal conflict Gucci encountered in Japan with a company called CUGGL (pronounced “kyuguru,” according to the Financial Times), whose trademark was registered in October 2020 by Nobuaki Kurokawa, an Osaka designer who specializes in t-shirts that parody major fashion brands and are comparable to those that can be found in tourist kiosks all over the world.A white t-shirt with pink brushstrokes covering the bottom of the brand’s letters so that just the portion that closely resembles Gucci’s logo is visible caused complications for Kurokawa. The Italian company clearly sued Kurokawa last year, claiming that the t-shirt confuses consumers and devalues the original trademark. This lawsuit was filed around a month ago.
The outcome was the traditional legal battle, which oddly enough was not won by Gucci: on July 12, the Japanese Patent Office actually rejected the brand’s complaint, stating that it would not be possible to confuse the two brands both visually, conceptually, and phonetically and, as a result, Kurokawa’s operation does not infringe any trademarks.Curiously, Kurokawa lost a similar lawsuit against Lacoste a few months ago for attempting to make a parody of the well-known upside-down crocodile. However, this is far too obvious to pass muster with Japanese judges, who, according to the Financial Times, are the gold standard in the field of international patents. However, the decision in CUGGL’s case is significant because it demonstrates that “the public is not confused by parody,” in the news of the American newspaper.