FRORIEP successfully represents Richemont International SA and Cartier International AG in trademark dispute

17. August 2016

Froriep successfully represented Richemont International SA and Cartier International AG in a trademark dispute against FMTM Distribution Ltd (Franck Muller) before the Court of Justice of Geneva.

At the core of the case was the alleged infringement of Franck Muller Swiss trademarks "MYSTERY" and "DOUBLE MYSTERY", registered in class 14 among others for watches. Cartier had been using the word "MYSTERY" in relation to watches for over 100 years to describe so-called "mystery watches" first invented by Jean-Eugène Houdin in the 18th century. Mystery watches have a mechanism cleverly concealed, which allows to indicate the hours and minutes without hands and/or to give a floating aspect to the hands or other components.  

Froriep was successful in demonstrating that the trademarks belonged to the public domain and were thus excluded from trademark protection under Swiss law: not only the term "MYSTERY" qualifies as a mechanical function hence is descriptive in relation to watches, but the Court also agreed that the term "MYSTERY" in relation to watches must remain freely available to competitors.

The Court of Justice declared both trademarks void. As a result, the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property was ordered to cancel the trademarks.

The Froriep team involved partners Frédéric Serra and Roger Staub and associates Melina Haralabopoulos and Sylvia Anthamatten.