Did Rihanna reveal enough?

Rihanna and Puma have been involved in a high-profile case regarding the invalidity of a design for shoes. The dispute centers around the disclosure of the design and the extent to which it was made public.
In December 2014, Rihanna posted pictures on her Instagram account wearing shoes that appeared to replicate the design in question.
Puma later submitted the design for registration in 2016.
A third party filed for invalidity, arguing that Rihanna's disclosure of the design more than twelve months prior to Puma's application rendered it lacking in individual character.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office and the General Court upheld this argument, stating that Rihanna's pictures constituted disclosure and that the shoes she wore produced the same overall impression as Puma's design. 

The General Court's judgment raised several questions, including the extent of disclosure required to invalidate a design, the validity of assumptions regarding non-visible parts of a design, and the court's authority to engage in fact-finding. The court implied that the entire earlier design must have been made available for comparison, in line with established case law.
This places the burden on the invalidity applicant to precisely reproduce the earlier design to demonstrate its invalidity. 

The court also assumed the appearance of non-visible parts of the design, raising concerns about the reversal of the burden of proof and the need for solid and objective evidence of disclosure. Additionally, the court's fact-finding on the appearance of the non-visible parts without reference to findings of the Board of Appeal was questioned, as it appeared to go beyond the established factual and legal context of the dispute. 

The case highlights the complexities of design registration and the challenges in determining the extent of disclosure required to invalidate a design. The implications of the General Court's judgment and the questions it raises regarding disclosure, assumptions about non-visible parts, and fact-finding will likely be of interest to the Court of Justice of the EU. 

The outcome of this case could have significant implications for future design registration and invalidity proceedings.



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