Pop superstar Madonna is currently involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit over her line of “Hard Candy” gyms.
The woman who taught the world to “Vogue” is being accused of maliciously stealing the name Hard Candy from a beauty and fashion company of the same name, and using the phrase to promote her gyms and fitness gear. Hard Candy, LLC has filed a federal lawsuit against the singer, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition.
According to the lawsuit, the singer sought to trademark the name in 2011 but was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. At that point, Madonna could have performed a trademark search to see if anyone had already trademarked the name, or she could have simply chosen a different name.
The “Material Girl” did neither. Instead of investigating further or changing the name, the singer proceeded to use the phrase to sell exercise DVDs and apparel for several years.
While the company has some harsh words for Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary, most of the claim’s vitriol is directed toward the legend herself. According to Hard Candy’s lawsuit, the “Open Your Heart” singer was “the driving force behind the infringing activity, taking credit herself for the initial selection and subsequent expansion.”
Hard Candy’s complaint says that Madonna’s use of the term has caused “irreparable harm for which money damages and other legal remedies are inadequate.” They are requesting financial damages and seeking the court’s help to bar the pop singer from using the name “Hard Candy” in the future.
The phrase “Hard Candy” may have significance to both Madonna and the rival fashion company because the term itself is not very distinct. In trademark law, the brand would be considered to be an “arbitrary mark,” which usually refers to a common word or phrase that does not describe your product, but is still used to reference it.
Arbitrary marks are still completely valid trademarks. A simple trademark search would have shown Madonna that the name was taken, and she could have chosen to either pay for the rights or change the name. Since she failed to do her research, her fate is now in the hands of the trademark courts. Depending on the strength of Hard Candy’s claim, she could end up paying big for her mistake.
A trademark search is always a good idea before you choose to market your brand. Not only could it save you a costly trademark infringement lawsuit, but it also will save you the pain and hassle of rebranding your product once the mistake is discovered.
Klein Trial Lawyers knows that your trademark is an important brand of trust between you and your consumers. Trademark infringers can cost you not only in lost profits, but also in lost consumer confidence. Let Klein Trial Lawyers help you keep your corner of the market safe. Call us today to discuss your trademark infringement lawsuit.
Did You Know: “Fanciful” trademarks – words or phrases created solely for your product – are the safest from trademark infringement.
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