(This story is based on reporting from the Armenian website http://hetq.am/)
[Ed. Note: As of press time, our reporter has not confirmed any of the following: (i) the jurisdictional authority of the Court hearing the case, (ii) the scope of Burberry's trademarks, and (iii) the precise issues upon which this case turns. HOWEVER, even without updates on the foregoing, this story illustrates the global nature of the copying a company such as Burberry faces.]
Burberry Ltd., a British luxury design house, has filed a lawsuit against Armenian coffee
house chain, Jazzve Ltd., for trademark infringement according to Hetq Online. Burberry Ltd. is the owner of several trademarks including the Burberry name as well as its distinctive tartan pattern. In February 2011, Burberry registered its marks with the Ministry of Economy’s Intellectual Property Agency in Armenia.
Burberry has claimed that Jazze Coffee has used the Burberry tartan pattern in the décor of its coffee houses without Burbery’s permission. Jazzve’s attorney, Grigor Minasyan, has stated that his client does not believe it has infringed on Burberry’s trademark and are seeking clarification of the trademark from the Intellectual Property Agency.
Burberry allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to Jazzve in November 2011 urging them to stop using their trademark in the Jazzve coffee houses. The design house has now taken the case to the Yerevan Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Court for adjudication.
The Yerevan Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Court is a court of general jurisdiction, hearing all criminal and civil cases for Center and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts in Armenia. The court resides in the city of Yerevan. Judge Ruben Nersisyan will hear Burberry’s claim.
Jazzve Coffee opened its first location in Yerevan, Armenia in 2003 and has since then gained wide popularity in the Armenia, making it one of the ten most popular brands in the area, according to its website. It has since opened several more coffee shops, 9 in Armenia and 4 in Russia with plans of opening 2 more shops in the near future.
Jazzve’s website even acknowledges its use of the Burberry pattern on its chairs.
“Company’s policy is based on the ideology that says: “non-traditional approach to traditional things”. “Jazzve” coffee houses attract customers with their old-fashioned interior style, original design of menu and waiters’ uniforms. The style is the same for all Jazzve locations, design includes certain elements that can be noticed in all coffee houses: the walls are of light coffee colour, there are coffee corns depicted on walls and ceilings and coffee pots hanging from the ceilings, ball shaped lamps made of paper, which also have coffee corns depicted on them, provide the lighting. The chairs are covered with Burberry pattern fabric and are of the same type in all Jazzve locations. Old newspapers and photos placed under glass on the tables remind visitors of Soviet period. Books and book shelves are also an integral part of interior, here customers may find books of any theme and genre, mainly of soviet period publication. Altogether, interior is decorated in retro style of 70’s and all elements that can be seen in different parts of coffee houses remind of a typical apartment of Soviet period: clocks on the walls, Russian samovars, musical instruments, gramophones, recording discs, etc.”
Jazzve has clearly taken the interior design of their coffee houses very seriously. After looking at the photos on Jazzve’s website it is apparent that their use of the alleged Burberry tartan pattern is not limited to just the chairs but is incorporated into the overall interior design of the shops. Jazzve has used the alleged Burberry tartan pattern on chairs, the bar, table clothes and hanging ceiling features.
Jazzve has become very well known in Russia and Armenia and it has even attempted to expand the brand into the United States by opening a location in Sherman Oaks, CA. The California location has since closed but more locations are set to open in Armenia and Russia. It will be interesting to see how this plays out since Jazzve does not think it has infringed on Burberry’s trademark and will clearly be reluctant to change the interior of all its coffee houses.