What happened when Thomas Pink, a British luxury apparel company, took legal action against Victoria’s Secret over its ‘Pink’ collection?
As we previously reported, Thomas Pink filed a trademark suit in Britain against Victoria’s Secret UK Ltd back in May last year. The British-based brand, which is now owned by luxury goods company LVMH, had cited concerns that consumers could be confused between its own high-end products and Victoria’s Secret’s mass-appeal ‘Pink’ lingerie line.
In its complaint, it accused Victoria’s Secret of “encroaching on its territory, potentially causing customer confusion” with its own Pink branding. It went on to claim that the lingerie giant was tarnishing its brand, which it says is known for quality and tradition, as opposed to Victoria’s Secret which has a more mass market reputation.
Two months later Victoria’s Secret filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit asking for clarification of the rights of the parties and the continued peaceful coexistence that had previously existed between them.
So what happened next? Well, a ruling in the infringement case last week gave Thomas Pink cause to celebrate. London’s High Court judge, Colin Birss, agreed that Victoria’s Secret UK had infringed Thomas Pink’s trademark rights. Birss found that the similar names could confuse European shoppers into believing that Thomas Pink is aligned with “sexy, mass-market appeal” ladies’ underwear, which could indeed cause a “detriment to the repute” of the shirt brand, as Thomas Pink had claimed. In his written decision, Birss held that consumers were “likely to enter one of the claimant’s shops looking for lingerie and be surprised and disappointed when they find they have made a mistake.”
The court ruled that Thomas Pink’s capital-lettered logo — used on its shop fronts since 1984 — was valid because it had become distinctive among shoppers.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret may be forced to drop its Pink trademark altogether in Europe, according to Matthew Dick, partner at intellectual property law firm D Young & Co, speaking to The Guardian newspaper. Do you agree?