Levi Strauss & Co. on Friday filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California alleging that Kenzo "has manufactured, sourced, marketed and/or sold substantial quantities of jeans, shorts, overalls, and other garments bearing pocket tab devices that are highly similar to LS&Co.'s Tab trademark."
The iconic jeans maker is seeking injunctive relief against Kenzo to stop producing and selling items with the offending tab as well as unspecified monetary damages to be decided at trial, according to court documents.
Levi's attorneys also said they alerted Kenzo that "The tab Kenzo is using is nearly identical to LS&Co.'s trademark, and remains online and for sale worldwide to our client's detriment," and noted that Kenzo told them it was investigating the matter. At issue in particular is the new Kenzo Britney Spears Collection.
The suit is over Levi's familiar tab sewn into the right back pocket of its jeans and other items. "Among its marks, LS&Co. owns the famous Tab Device Trademark … and began to display the Tab trademark on the rear pocket of its pants in 1936," the company said in its court filing. The company called on the brand's history in its filing, noting that Leo Christopher Lucier, Levi's national sales manager in 1936, recognized as early as then the value of the brand's little tag, which he said was "to provide 'sight identification'" of its products.
"No other maker of overalls can have any other purpose in putting a colored tab on an outside patch pocket, unless for the express and sole purpose of copying our mark, and confusing the customer," Monday's court filing quotes Lucier as saying.
It could be that LVMH-owned Kenzo sees the tab as signifying some ineffable quality of denim in general, that a tab isn't something subject to trademark and or that its tabs don't really resemble the Levi tab closely enough to be subject to an infringement claim. Kenzo didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment.
But Levi's says its tab is one of many product trademarks it has employed "for well over a century" and says it owns several United States registrations for its tab trademark.
"LS&Co. marks its Levi's brand products with a set of trademarks that are famous around the world," according to the filing. "Most of LS&Co.'s trademarks are federally registered; all are in full force and effect, valid and protectable, and exclusively owned by LS&Co."