Madonna was quite daring when she named her new fragrance. An Australian artist, RJ Williams, recently filed a lawsuit against Madonna because her perfume Truth or Dare logo looks strikingly similar to his registered trademark.
The logos in question are similar, featuring the letter “T” inscribed inside the letter “M.” However, while the Williams’ design features chunky lines and a squat stance, the logo for Madonna’s perfume stands taller and features thin lines. The “t” is also lower case, appearing more like a cross than Williams’ signature logo.
The International Trademark Association, a group of major fashion and consumer product brands, launched an anticounterfeiting campaign to raise awareness among teens about the detrimental effects that counterfeits have on the global economy and on brand owners, as well as the potential dangers to consumers’ health.
WWD reported that the INTA’s new campaign, dubbed “Unreal,” emphasizes how social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, could be used to reach a target audience of 14- to 18-year-olds.
Because counterfeit items are readily available in many parts of the country, it is not surprising that teenagers buy them without realizing the economic and social consequences of their purchases. It is doubtful that a teenage girl has child labor or trademark infringement on her mind when she rummages through the fake Fendi wallets on Canal street in Manhattan or illegally downloads a song on the Internet.
“These are folks that are obviously the next generation of purchasers,” said INTA President Gregg Marazzo of Estee Lauder. “Even now they have significant purchasing power.” The goal of INTA’s Unreal campaign is to educate teens about the low quality and unreliability of counterfeits while also emphasizing the harmful social effects, including child labor, organized crime, and negative health impacts.
Alan Drewsen, executive director of INTA, said, “It is our hope that this information will influence their decision the next time they are approached by a site or vendor selling counterfeit goods.”
Anyone who has walked into a Guess store in the past four years has probably noticed that the company’s handbags resemble the iconic Gucci pattern. Sure, both brands start with the letter “G,” but does that really give Guess the right to use a trademark that is strikingly similar to the luxury brand?
According to a federal judge in Manhattan, the answer is no. On May 21, 2012, WWD reported that Gucci won its trademark battle against Guess Inc., but Gucci did not receive the damage award that it was expecting. Gucci claimed that it suffered $221 million in damages, but it was only awarded $4.7 million in combined damages from Guess and its footwear licensee Marc Fisher Footwear. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote that Gucci had proven its dilution claims under the Lanham Act, which is the primary federal trademark statute in the
United States, and limited Guess’ use of the Quattro G pattern in brown and beige colorways. However, Scheindlin rejected Gucci’s counterfeiting claim, noting “courts have uniformly restricted trademark counterfeiting claims to those situations where entire products have been copied stitch-for-stitch.”
In an eloquent twist, Scheindlin quoted Oscar Wilde, who described fashion as “a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” According to WWD, Scheindlin wrote, “With the instant disputes now resolved, and with Gucci’s entitlement to the relief noted above, it is my hope that this ugliness will be limited to the runway and shopping floor, rather than spilling over into the courts.”
In January Burberry filed a complaint against a group of Chinese internet counterfeiters for use of 22 distinct types of goods bearing Burberry trademarks. Defendants, owners of websites such as yesburberryvision.com and buyburberry.com, not only failed to appear in court but they also failed to answer Burberry’s complaint resulting in an award of $100 million to Burberry as well as any money held by Paypal Inc. Burberry was also awarded a permanent injunction transfering ownership of the domain names to them allowing them to prevent others from doing business with the defendants.
To me, there is nothing more dreamy than Humphrey Bogart; except, perhaps, an image of Bogart in a trench coat. The owner of Bogart’s name and likeness seems to agree and is suing Burberry for posting a picture on Facebook of Mr. Bogart wearing a Burberry trench.
Gucci recently won $4.7 million from Guess in the trademark infringement suit. Since Gucci originally asked for $221 million, this win did not seem to be big enough because Gucci resued Guess in China, France and Italy just last week.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2009 against Guess and Marc Fisher Footwear (who also got in trouble in the Ivanka Trump copying case). Guess had made a shoe that copied several of Gucci’s design elements, including the “G” pattern and their signature red and green stripe. Of the awarded $4.7 million, Guess has to pay $2.1 million, and Marc Fisher Footwear has to pay the remaining $2.6 million.
“When you have a case of this magnitude and you have companies that really feel they’re in the right, and take it more personally than as a legal matter, it’s hard to settle. When it comes down to it, they are pleased that the outcome went the way it did,” Darren Saunders, Marc Fisher Footwear’s lawyer, said about his client’s reaction to the decision.
In addition to the money damages, Gucci was granted a permanent injunction, which bars Guess from using the “Quattro G” pattern, the red and green stripe, and other G marks.
Although Gucci was pleased with the results of the case, they have said they are firmly committed to take the necessary action to preserve the integrity, exclusivity and distinctiveness of their brand. They also warned that their win should serve as a detterent for those who attempt to unlawfully exploit Gucci’s intellectual property.
Guess CEO Paul Marciano said, “In my opinion, the results in this case show that Gucci grossly overreached in its claims and the entire case could have been avoided with a single letter or phone call. Gucci has also tried to attack Guess in other jurisdictions, but Guess will vigorously defend its rights in all of these cases and is confident that its position will be vindicated.”
Luckily, they have the chance to do in China, Italy and France.
It goes without saying that the perfect pair of jeans is worth more than the price tag. Finding that pair that fits great, is the perfect color, and is good quality is a combination that one might actually say is priceless. True Religion has gone to great lengths to protect what it deems is the perfect combination and recently won an $863.9 million cybersquatting suit.
Last year Caseclothesed reported that the Times Square performer, the Naked Cowboy (Robert John Burck) brought suit against CBS and Bell Phillips. Burck claimed that the character from the soap ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ who also played guitar in his briefs and a cowboy hat infringed his trademark and tarnished his reputation.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones granted defendants motion to dismiss on the basis that while the Naked Cowboy has become a famous character, “even an unsophisticated viewer” would not be confused between the Naked Cowboy and the character on the “Bold and the Beautiful.”
“Sex and the City” fans are likely to be thrilled at the news of a prequel show. The rumors of a new Carrie have been in headlines all over, allowing addicts to once again have their needs satisfied. But, the prequel is not the only newsworthy development in the “Sex and the City” world. A recent report claims the most frequently intercepted fake perfume in 2011 by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) bore the “Sex and the City” name.
In 2009, Gucci America Inc. filed suit in federal district court in Manhattan against Guess Inc. for alleged trademark infringement. According to WWD, a federal district court judge in Manhattan has denied Guess Inc.’s request to dismiss and is allowing certain claims of Gucci America Inc. to proceed. Included among those claims allowed to proceed are regarding a “script Guess logo” and a claim over a “green-red-green stripe” which are proceeding due to the existence of material factual issues. However, the district court judge did rule in Guess’ favor regarding some of Gucci’s dilution claims. These claims involve the “Square G” and “Quattro G” designs. The judge ruled that Gucci failed to provide any credible evidence to raise any issue that actual dilution has occurred so those claims against Guess were dismissed.