Vespa has a long and storied history as a scooter manufacturer that
both amazed and amassed fans around the world. You don’t get to that
level over the decades without aggressively defending your intellectual
property, though. Today, Piaggio proudly announced that it won a EUIPO
decision in court against a Chinese scooter maker. The allegation: that
two brands, Motolux and Dayi Motor, copied the design of the Vespa
Primavera for two scooters shown at EICMA 2019.
As of May 25,
2020, Piaggio announced that the invalidity division of EUIPO canceled
the registration of that single design, because it was, in EUIPO’s
words, "unable to elicit a general impression different from the
registered design" of the Primavera. Piaggio first registered the
Primavera’s design with EUIPO in 2013.
defends its trademarks around the world, pursuing litigation as part of
broader anti-counterfeit efforts globally. The world is more connected
now than ever before, which can be great if you’re trying to bring your
scooter to the masses. However, defending your designs also takes
constant vigilance, and a certain relentless drive to continually pursue
legislation to swat would-be infringers away from your trademarks.
the company is celebrating a win today, things don’t always go as they
would like. In September 2019, Piaggio lost a case against Zhejiang
Zhongneng, a Chinese scooter manufacturer. At the time, Piaggio alleged
that Zhejiang copied its Vespa LX design, but EUIPO found significant
differences, deciding that an average person should have no trouble
telling the two apart from one another.
Pursuant to the
Primavera case, Piaggio added that its anti-counterfeit litigation
resulted in the cancellation of over 50 trademarks registered by third
parties in the past two years. If they’re actual copies, that’s totally
reasonable and good news. However, if there were more similarities to
the Vespa LX case, where the designs were significantly different, it
could be seen more as a case of Piaggio throwing its weight around.
Without reviewing each of those 50 winning cases, or even all the
trademark cases that the company both won and lost over the past two
years, it’s difficult to say with certainty.
As motorcycle and
scooter enthusiasts, we want to see companies get credit where it’s due,
and also to not have their designs ripped off in bad faith. However, at
the same time, we also want to see less well-resourced designers have
the chance to build on history and come up with new things when
possible. So many forms of art are iterative in some way, and it’s
always a shame to see nascent creativity stifled.