An inauspicious start to the new year: Audemars Piguet v. Swiss Watch Int'l, 12 Civ. 5423 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2014)

Posted by Charles Colman

It may be a Happy New Year for many, but not for Swiss Watch International, Inc.  Earlier this week, Judge Harold Baer (he of the decisively pro-fair use decision in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, which happened to cite and quote an amicus brief filed by my firm) issued a troubling trade-dress ruling in favor of luxury timepiece purveyor Audemars Piguet.  (Judge Baer's January 6th Opinion & Order in the watch litigation is embedded below and posted on Scribd.)

Some might recall my fun (if heated) public speaking on the potentially anticompetitive effects of product-design trade-dress protection in late 2013, sparked by a disastrous TTAB ruling that I critiqued in this paper.  Rejoice, recoil, or be indifferent as I now affirm my intention to continue my anti-monopolistic crusade in 2014, starting with a presentation at this Friday's Tri-State Region IP Workshop, hosted by my gracious employer, NYU School of Law, and organized by the wonderful Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy.

As I'm busy preparing for Friday's talk, I can't launch into a jeremiad on the flaws of the Audemars Piguet decision just now.  (You'll find an unbiased summary of the ruling here.)  I will, however, provide a preview of the portions of the Judge's opinion that I find especially problematic, via the ill-suited platform of LAW OF FASHION's woefully underfollowed Pinterest account.  Start with this (Audemars Piguet's claims in the case) and this (for a recital of the basic rules governing trade-dress protection), then brace yourself for this (for a "discussion" of SWI's "functionality" defense), and -- not for the faint of heart -- this (for an "analysis" of SWI's "trade-dress dilution" claim under New York State law.  No federal dilution claim = no "fame" requirement = real bad news.)

More to come...

Audemars Piguet v. Swiss Watch Int'l, 12 Civ. 5423 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2014)



[Like everything on LAW OF FASHION, this post is for entertainment and informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship among any individuals or entities. Any views expressed in this post or at the linked web pages are those of the relevant writer(s) on a particular date, and should not necessarily be attributed to Charles Colman; Charles Colman Law, PLLC; New York University; The Center for the Study of Fashion, Law, or Society; or any subdivisions, agents, representatives, or clients thereof. Neither the writer of this post nor LAW OF FASHION (or any person or entity associated with either) can or will warrant the thoroughness or accuracy of the content here or at the cited sources.]