There are few trademarks so easily recognised as Burberry plaid. Whether printed on an umbrella, lining a raincoat, or woven into the soft threads of a cashmere scarf, the traditional Burberry plaid is unmistakable in its designation as a piece of the British luxury brand. But Burberry offers more than just its trademark plaid -- especially in recent years.
Traditional Trademarked Plaid
The successful clothing line, founded by Thomas Burberry in the 1870s, focused primarily on bringing practical, luxury goods to outdoor-minded customers. Burberry began his empire with simple raincoats built more comfortably and durable than their contemporary counterparts. The traditional Burberry plaid, a checked design of camel, red, black and white, was initially used solely for the linings of coats.
However, in the 1960s a Burberry merchandiser highlighted the plaid lining of the coats in the display windows and began a customer frenzy for Burberry plaid. The trademarked design graced not only linings, but entire shirts, coats, dresses, purses and even swimming costumes. Of particular popularity were and are Burberry's traditional plaid umbrellas and cashmere scarves.
Alternate Burberry Plaids
Seeing diminished sales in 1998, Burberry toned down its usage of the traditional camel plaid and opened its options to other prints and styles. Since 1998, Burberry has used its trademark plaid in a more subtle manner, incorporating it with solids or using different plaids altogether.
Staying true to the wide tartan check, other Burberry plaids change from season to season, typically featuring deeps reds with black print or charcoals and greys for the winter months and playing with light neutrals for the spring. It is rare to see a Burberry plaid product that is not in the same wideset 3-by-3 crosshatch, regardless of the colour combination.
As the popularity of Burberry products continues unfettered, similar and identical plaids arrive on the market. While black markets are notorious for their Burberry copycat purses, wallets, umbrellas and scarves, even legitimate retailers have infringed upon the trademark plaid.
In March 2010, Burberry filed a lawsuit against T.J. Maxx, a popular discount retailer, for trademark infringement. T.J. Maxx was accused of selling handbags, shirts, picture frames, luggage and scarves that featured a nearly identical camel, red, black and white plaid.
Other retailers frequently use a plaid that is similar enough to Burberry's to attract shoppers aware of the luxury brand's trademark check.