Chanel and Coty have successfully acted against several Dutch companies trading under the name Bargello Perfumes. Bargello offered smell-a-like perfumes claiming the same or even a better quality than the perfumes of the well-known brands and for that purpose used comparative lists with Bargello numbers directly linked to the trade marks of Chanel and Coty.
At first the comparative lists were used publicly on the counter in each of Bargello's stores. Later – after a complaint by Chanel and Coty – Bargello changed its strategy and only let its employees use the comparative list behind the counter and not visible to customers. Bargello also used slogans like "400 well-known perfumes", "you will not notice the difference" and "over 400 well-known perfumes for only € 16,99!".
In line with the CJEU decision in L'Oreal/Bellure: "where a third party attempts, through the use of a sign similar to a mark with a reputation, to ride on the coat-tails of that mark in order to benefit from its power of attraction, its reputation and its prestige, and to exploit, without paying any financial compensation and without being required to make efforts of its own in that regard, the marketing effort expended by the proprietor of that mark in order to create and maintain the image of that mark, the advantage resulting from such use must be considered to be an advantage that has been unfairly taken of the distinctive character or the repute of that mark" the District Court of The Hague ruled that Bargello infringed the trade mark rights of Chanel and Coty by using the comparative lists for smell-a-like perfumes in its Dutch stores.
The visible use of the comparative lists was considered to be a trade mark infringement as was the use of these lists by Bargello's employees behind the counters. The District Court ruled that, even in that case, the trade marks played the same key role in the sales and communication process of Bargello to its customers as if the customers could see the lists themselves. Therefore, according to the District Court, such use cannot be considered as merely internal but as taking unfair advantage of the repute of the trade marks.
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