Coffee-cat victory: Bodum Chambord wins appeal in Federal Court

Mallesons Stephen Jaques has successfully acted for the Bodum Group on a landmark legal battle in the Full Federal Court of Australia regarding a copy of its iconic Bodum Chambord coffee plunger. The outcome is possibly the first of its kind in Australia, protecting the distinctive shape and features of Bodum’s Chambord coffee plunger design from imitation.

The Court held that DKSH Australia, which imported and sold a Euroline copy plunger, had engaged in misleading and

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deceptive conduct in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now the Australian Consumer Law 2010), and engaged in passing off.

Likening the shape and features of the iconic Bodum Chambord Coffee Plunger to the famous Coca-Cola bottle, the Federal Court examined over 30 years of Bodum’s extensive advertising and promotion of the Bodum Chambord Coffee Plunger in Australia and declared Bodum’s reputation to be vast and enduring. Greenwood J held:

“the evidence establishes a very significant secondary reputation in the features of the Bodum Chambord Coffee Plunger associated in the mind of consumers with Bodum as the manufacturer of the product”.

The Court held that by reason of DKSH’s adoption of the features of the distinctive Bodum Chambord Coffee Plunger, together with its failure to adopt distinguishing or differentiating indicia for its rival product, consumers of homewares products would be misled by the Euroline plunger into thinking that it came from the same trade source as the Chambord, or is in some way sponsored or approved by Bodum.

The case recognises that Australian courts will protect well known products with attractive design, features and product shapes from copyists in appropriate circumstances even if they use another brand name to try and differentiate their copy.

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