Hermès Wins Another Trademark Lawsuit, This Time in Japan over Bag Shape


Ever wonder about the myriad of handbags shaped like Hermès’ hallmark Birkins and Kellys? That “inspired by” isn’t quite the same as fake or knockoff, but sometimes the design just seems a bit too close?

Well, it certainly concerns Hermès, in its quest to protect its products, brand, and designs worldwide including in the metaverse. Just two months ago, Hermès won a jury verdict in New York against the maker of the MetaBirkin on the basis that it infringed Hermès intellectual property and did not warrant protection as artistic expression under the First Amendment. Yet the case is not over as MetaBirkin creator Mason Rothschild promises to appeal the decision. Moreover, Hermès has asked the court to prevent further MetaBirkin sales and transfer the intellectual property to it.

Update on Hermès MetaBirkin Lawsuit

Hermès Beat the ‘MetaBirkin’ Creator in Court. Now What?

Lawsuit Over the MetaBirkin is Proceeding

Now comes word of another judicial success by Hermès, this time in Japan. The luxury heritage brand sued Nao International Co., Ltd, for selling 214 Birkin look-alike bags and 184 Kelly look-alike bags between 2019 and 2021. According to Japanese  law firm Marks IP Law

The Tokyo District Court found that the defendant’s bags respectively resemble 3D marks representing Hermès Birkin and Kelly Bag in an appearance on the ground that the defendant’s bags contain a basic and unique configuration enabling to distinguish Hermès Birkin and Kelly Bag from others. A difference in details is trivial and would not give rise to a distinctive impression in the mind of consumers.

The court concluded that consumers are likely to confuse the source of these bags, notwithstanding the substantial price difference between the bags.

So, let’s look at the actual designs. Hermès fans undoubtedly will  recognize the Maison’s famed and trademark registered styles. The Birkin:

The Kelly:

And here are the designs of Nao, that have been ruled to infringe. To a trained eye (and perhaps even untrained), these so-called “copies” are not exactly impressive.

But it certainly makes us wonder whether Hermès will be challenging any and all handbags bearing even the slightest resemblance to the Birkin and Kelly?

What do you think?

Images courtesy: Marks IP Law Firm


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