Ricard remains “Yellow with a big R”, or not?

The importance of design registration

About 105 years ago, Paul Ricard added an undisputed icon to the French lifestyle. In his improvised laboratory, he created the perfect recipe for an aperitif that is incredibly popular to this very day: pastis. Along with his recipe, he also designed the iconic Ricard jug, which became an indispensable accessory in many cafés. Several versions were released, but the 2018 model was the only one that caused a throwback among many pastis lovers....


Sun, Marseille and Ricard!

Paul Ricard was only 23 when he developed the famous drink. As an alumni of Beaux-Arts college, he also designed the very first Ricard jug himself. The new variant was supposed to be a bright yellow colour, but a mistake in the cooking process gave the famous jug a 'toasted bread' colour. A colour that has in the meantime become one of the brand's best-known Brand Assets.

A few years ago, a new model of the Ricard jug was released. This was seen by many as a reference to the original design of Paul Ricard himself. This design was given a bright yellow colour, reflecting the Marseille sun while having aperitifs. The jug had a more particular round shape and the special spout was designed so ice cubes could not get into your drink when pouring. The throwback was complete thanks to the collaboration with Revol, the company behind the very first jug in ceramic.

An impressive model, but why isn’t it protected?


Reputation vs IP protection

An answer to that question can be found while looking at other iconic brands. For instance, there was a recent case about luxury brand Christian Louboutin. Christian Louboutin had filed an application to protect the design of its well-known shoes in Brazil in 2009. Now, no registrations were regulated by the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office at that time and the application could not be filed until 2021.

Consequently, the famous red-sole model was not protected in Brazil, so many local companies saw this as an opportunity. For instance, a Brazilian shoe company sold shoes with red soles online, which were clearly inspired by previous creations by the French shoe brand. Naturally, this was noticed by Christian Louboutin and an opposition was started at the Court of Appeal in Sao Paulo based on unfair competition and copyright infringement.


Although Louboutin had no design rights in Brazil, the Court of Appeal agreed with them and for two reasons: the reputation of the red sole and the luxury brand's trade image. They concluded that in specialised sectors, such as fashion, there are certain characteristics that are automatically linked to a brand. Think of, for example, the iconic Chanel 2.55 handbag...


The benefits of a design registration

Although Christian Louboutin had been right and lucky in these proceedings, we cannot guarantee that those reasons will also be accepted for the brand Ricard. It would not even be possible to protect it now, as the design is no longer new and it was disclosed before it was registered. It is therefore recommended to always register your design in time, at the latest within 12 months of publication, with all the legal certainty and benefits as a result.

Once you have registered a design, it is protected for a period of 5 years in the desired region. That registration can be renewed up to 5 times. This gives you an exclusive right in the region in which your design is registered, allowing you to avoid competitors releasing similar designs in the market. If they do, you will have a legal basis when taking action against fraud and imitation.

You want to already protect your design, but without publishing it yet? No problem, you can postpone the publication of your design for up to 30 months.

Be sure to read our blog about the Courmayeur Design Weekend and registering a unique design if you want to read more about designs.

Always be assisted by a Trademark Specialist when registering a Trademark or Design.