Possible pawsitive outcome for the infringer?
Products and services for pets is a billion-dollar industry with a worldwide diverse clientele. Are you looking to buy a tuxedo for your dog? A pearl necklace and wine for your cat? Whatever you need, or don’t need, it’s for sale.
When having a quick look at a couple of companies in the industry, it almost seems like there is a secret competition of who comes up with the catchiest name. Among endless variations using words such as “paw”, “fur” and “purr”, there are those who take it a step further.
US company Printing By Demand, LLC is the owner of a web shop by the name of Pawmain Pets. The shop sells street wear for dogs, marketed under names such as Alexander Woof, Chewnel and Pawlenciaga. Sounds familiar? Printing By Demand, LLC has filed trademark applications for some of its brands, Pawlenciaga being one of them.
High-end fashion house Balenciaga opposed the application, arguing that if registered, Pawlenciaga is likely to cause confusion with Balenciaga and that it could substantially harm the well-established luxury brand. Yes, the two marks are very similar, as the Pawlenciaga is in fact a parody on Balenciaga. While that is a sign in favour of Balenciaga, there is a similar precedent case that may change the course.
In the case Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Haute Diggity Dog, the court ruled in favour of the latter which could continue selling dog toys as “Chewy Vuiton”. Among the decisive factors, the court pointed out that because the Louis Vuitton mark is particularly strong and distinctive, it is not likely that a successful parody would impair the distinctiveness of the mark.
It is a risky decision to invest in marketing and launching of a brand that clearly is not unique, before having the exclusive rights. Let Otmore’s experts guide you through the trademark jungle to keep your company safe, contact us today!