The Ninth Circuit is allowing a lawsuit over trademarks on the jewelry color term “red gold” to continue after rejecting the lower court’s grant of summary judgment.
The trademark dispute, pitting Los Angeles jeweler Chris Aire against LVHM Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton SE (“Louis Vuitton”), was revived on March 24 after a three-judge panel vacated District Judge Doly M. Gee’s dismissal of the lawsuit. Aire, through his business Solid 21 Inc., originally sued Louis Vuitton and 14 other watchmakers for trademark infringement in 2010 over use of his trademark “Red Gold,” used for fine jewelry and watches made from a special alloy of gold with a distinct color.
Louis Vuitton moved for summary judgment in 2015, arguing that “red gold” had been used for years by jewelers to describe the red-tinted gold and copper mix, and that granting exclusive right to this term would produce a devastating “economic monopoly.”
Despite initially dismissing Louis Vuitton’s summary judgment motion, District Judge Dolly M. Gee reversed the dismissal in June of 2015, stating that the prior decision was a “misinterpretation” of Ninth Circuit case law and that Louis Vuitton presented “overwhelming evidence” that “red gold” is merely a generic term for red-tinted gold alloy.
The Ninth Circuit panel in turn vacated this dismissal on March 24. The court said the lower court had committed crucial procedural errors, like excluding customer testimony that would weigh against the generic nature of “red gold.”
Daniel Siegal, Louis Vuitton’s ‘Red Gold’ Infrings TM, 9th Circ. Told, Law360, March 8, 2017,https://www.law360.com/ip/articles/899924/louis-vuitton-s-red-gold-infringes-tm-9th-circ-told
Bill Donahue, 9th Cir. Nixes Ruling that ‘Red Gold’ TM is Generic, Law360, March 24, 2017, https://www.law360.com/articles/906073/9th-circ-nixes-ruling-that-red-gold-tm-is-generic
Bill Donahue, Jeweler Tells 9th Circ. ‘Red Gold’ Isn’t Generic, Law360, April 20, 2016, https://www.law360.com/articles/786532?scroll=1
Bill Donahue, Louis Vuitton Wins Ruling That “Red Gold’ Is Generic, Law360, June 15, 2015,https://www.law360.com/articles/667596?scroll=1
Daniel Siegal, Louis Vuitton Knocks Jeweler’s Red Gold’ Mark as Generic, Law360, April 25, 2014,https://www.law360.com/articles/532196?scroll=1
Kat Greene, Vuitton Loses Bid to Sink ‘Red Gold’ Mark as Generic, Law360, September 29, 2014,https://www.law360.com/articles/582059