Two-thirds of court proceedings were due to cases of plagiarism and domain grabbing, i.e. disputes with criminal intent, where Jack Wolfskin products were sold and end customers were deceived with false promises. The remaining third is represented by disputes with companies. The reasons for these differences of opinion may be varied, and we do not generally assume any hostile intentions. For us, they are usually not to be tolerated because of the associated commercial interest involved and/or risk of diluting our own brand essence. No matter whether other parties are intentionally or unintentionally damaging the Jack Wolfskin brand as a result of their activities, it is the duty of the company holding trademark rights to defend these rights. This is necessary in order to maintain the distinctiveness of the brand over the long term. For this reason, we cannot preclude the possibility of legal proceedings with other companies or criminal third parties in the future.

We don’t think that at all. An animal print is a natural symbol and, as such, no one can claim to have designed it because of a lack of originality. For this reason, it cannot be said that our pawprint is a symbol belonging to a specific copyright holder, and therefore copyright cannot be asserted.

Despite this, certain designs, symbols and images may be registered as trademarks and protected, provided that this has not been done by anyone else. From the famous three stripes, an apple with a bite taken out of it to stars, this also covers animal prints such as our pawprint. In this respect, we do not think that a pawprint can universally belong to us, but only if we have the exclusive right to feature the symbol on certain products and to sell them within our registered goods/service segments.

Differences in logos are often hard to distinguish because the customer often does not analyse the logo in detail in a shopping scenario, and he or she cannot compare the different logos with one another straight away. In addition, potential for confusion is a major reason why existing trademark law should be applied – but not the only reason. Another major reason is that trademark owners are required to defend their rights if they do not want them to be diluted or exploited by third parties for their own benefit. If we did not take action in individual infringements, it would be more difficult to apply our trademark rights in the event of other infractions where third parties severely misuse our trademarks. Over the long term, this can lead to a tangible dilution in the strength of our brand, which we, of course, cannot accept.

While copyright law must guarantee that the individual intellectual creation of a copyright holder cannot be used by another without the holder’s consent (regardless of whether it is used for commercial purposes or not), trademark protection does not require an act of intellectual creation but solely the entry of the trademark into the register by the relevant trademark office for specific goods or services. As with the Jack Wolfskin pawprint, trademarks can also be registered for symbols for which there can be no copyright protection as a result of a lack of sufficient originality. In this way, a pawprint cannot be seen as having been invented by anyone, but can still be registered as a brand and protected for specific product and service areas.

We have to view the use of an identical pawprint symbol as serious. For pawprints that are just similar, the following categorisations must be made:

  • Private use: This generally does not pose any problems.
  • Non-commercial use (e.g. by charities): In many cases, we have no objections to such usage. Depending on the extent and distribution of this usage, we would welcome prior notification in order to preclude any misunderstanding and avoid future conflicts.
  • Commercial use: In general, commercial use is seen as serious. The extent to which this is in conflict with our trademark rights can only be determined by asking the following questions for each individual case:
    • How similar is the pawprint symbol used?
    • How similar is the product or service to the products and services offered or sold by Jack Wolfskin?
    • Is the perception of our pawprint exploited or affected in any way?
    • How professional/commercial is the use of the pawprint?

If you want to know the extent to which the use of a logo is serious or not, please contact us at any time on the following email address: info@jack-wolfskin.com

When categorising serious cases, the following questions must always be answered for each individual instance:

  • How similar is the name or the trademark used?
  • How similar is the product or service to the products and services offered or sold by Jack Wolfskin?
  • Is the perception of our brand exploited or affected in any way?
  • How professional/commercial is the use of the trademark?

You can find our current Code of Conduct on the topic of trademark protection here.

If you would like to know the extent to which the use of a logo is serious or not, please contact us at any time on the following email address: info@jack-wolfskin.com

In spite of our extensive efforts to combat brand piracy, Jack Wolfskin cannot completely prevent the appearance of counterfeit products. We therefore urge you to purchase Jack Wolfskin products exclusively from either our branded stores or from a specialist sports and outdoor activities retail partner.

The security of buying online, especially from online auction sites, depends on the respective affiliates. You should therefore ascertain the identity of the seller in advance and review their customer assessments, which are often available to read.

Jack Wolfskin regularly performs checks to see whether counterfeit Jack Wolfskin products are being sold on auction sites and online marketplaces. In the event of our rights being violated by suppliers of counterfeit items, we will take appropriate action. Due to the abundance of offers, it is not possible to completely prevent the unlawful distribution of counterfeit goods through various online channels.

Brands serve as a point of orientation for the consumer and offer peace of mind when selecting a product. The customer not only assumes that the brand’s products are associated with a particular standard of quality or performance but also that a particular level of service is provided after the sale. Brand manufacturers are also intent on adjusting to take the requirements of their customers into account and regularly develop new product innovations to meet their customers’ needs. In addition, brands are also an expression of a particular lifestyle, especially among textiles and fashion labels. Therefore, the customer is not only able to rely on a certain functional performance of the product, but also that the products will continue to express this lifestyle in years to come.

The DaWanda case taught us that our approach at the time was disproportionate. Since then, we first write to those involved in trademark infringements with the aim of finding a mutual agreement, provided they are not cases of counterfeit goods or they are not clearly attributed to the commercial domain. Since 2010, we have established our own Code of Conduct, which stipulates when we should take action, and when we shouldn’t. In general, persons in the private domain are not issued with warnings, and even in the case of corporate instances, we still set great store by coming to a mutual agreement. Legal assistance is the last resort if a mutual agreement no longer seems possible. This is also borne out by the record of serious cases over the past ten years. The proceedings in the case of the Famous Five filming by Alias Entertainment GmbH, for example, was very different to the DaWanda case and was, in our view, completely proportionate:

  • Alias Entertainment GmbH wanted to register the pawprint logo as a trademark in areas to which we lay claim – clothing, footwear and equipment.
  • The Alias Entertainment GmbH case was a clear instance of commercial interest.
  • The legal steps taken by Jack Wolfskin against Alias Entertainment GmbH only came into play once attempts to reach a mutual arrangement failed after more than 18 months.
  • The magnitude of the sales and marketing channels would have been much, much higher in the Famous Five case. This would, therefore, have led to a much higher risk of dilution for the trademark.

For more information about the dispute with Alias Entertainment GmbH, see here.

No. The fact that this is not the case is illustrated by the fact that the Jack Wolfskin pawprint and the taz pawprint are based on two independent designs as well as by the fact that they are legally intended for use in two completely different product areas:

  • In the case of taz, it was to be used for the newspaper and for anything to do with reporting and the press
  • In the case of Jack Wolfskin, it was to be used for goods and services linked to products from the outdoor industry.

It is worth considering in more detail the sequence of events in the dispute in order to recognise that it was never in our interest to contest the use of the pawprint symbol by taz or to damage its business in any other way. For details of these cases, click here.