L'Oréal SA v. Bellure NV
England and Wales Court of Appeal
 RPC 23,  E.T.M.R. 47 (2010)
L’Oréal SA (plaintiff) was a purveyor of various luxury perfumes and owned the trademarks for the brand names of those perfumes. Bellure NV (defendant) produced perfumes that smelled like those made and trademarked by L’Oréal and sold them for fractions of L’Oréal’s prices. Bellure advertised its perfumes via the use of comparison sheets—materials detailing which of its own perfumes corresponded to L’Oréal’s more expensive offerings. In 2003, L’Oréal sued Bellure in UK court for unfair competition on the basis of these comparative advertisements. It did not allege reputational damage or customer confusion; rather, L'Oréal claimed that the comparative advertising took unfair advantage of its brands’ reputations. The England and Wales Court of Appeal referred questions about the interpretation of Article 3(1)(a) of European Union (EU) Directive 84/50/EEC2 (the EU comparative-advertising directive) to the European Union Court of Justice, which stated that comparative advertising that presents an advertiser’s products as imitations of a trademarked product constitutes unfair competition. The case was then returned to the Court of Appeal, which applied the EU Court of Justice’s guidance in this opinion.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Jacob, J.)
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