[THE INVESTOR] South Korean fashion brand PLAYNOMORE reported on Feb. 21 that Seoul High Court has rejected France’s Hermes suit against the company saying that it has breached the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act on Feb. 16.
PLAYNOMORE's Shygirl (left) and Hermes' Kelly
The French luxury fashion house filed a suit in July 2015 saying that the South Korean company’s signature top-handle bags featuring large eyeballs copied the designs of their bags known as Kelly and Birkin thus violating the law.
In the first trial, some of Hermes’ allegations were admitted but the appellate court ruled that the similarity between PLAYNOMORE’s products and those of Hermes in some forms alone could not be seen to harm the fair trade and free trade orders.
PLAYNOMORE’s unique eye motifs seem to characterize the products and work as a motivation for purchase, and its products have realized a novel aesthetics and originality by combining unfamiliar and diverse images, the court added.
“This court ruling is significant in that it has suggested a scope and limit to some articles from the unfair competition act that has been quoted in recent controversies,” said Han Dong-su, an attorney at South Korean law firm Yulchon. “It has great implication in that the court has recognized the value of unique designs of PLAYNOMORE’s products, one of the representative K-fashion products.”
“We will focus on the brand from now on,” said the company owner Kim Chaeny adding that “hopefully there will be no more imprudent lawsuits against small- and medium-sized South Korean companies from established brands.”
By Hwang You-mee (firstname.lastname@example.org