In December 2017 Popstar Taylor Swift launched her app The Swift Life to accompany her sixth album Reputation, allowing fans to interact with her and other fans in their own social community. She was then faced with a lawsuit from businessman Patrick Lloyd Yves Benot, the owner of a New York computer company called SwiftLife which owns the trade mark ‘SwiftLife’.
Benot claimed Swift’s app infringed on his trade mark, claiming he had even been flooded by emails from Swift fans who have confused his company with her app.
Of course, Taylor denied this, stating nobody could possibly confuse her with a computer store. Unfortunately for her, the celebrity status did not matter when it came to the law, which was not on her side as she and her team’s efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed was swiftly denied, thus the case continues. However, the judge did also deny Benot’s request for a temporary injunction against the app, probably because she had already announced the app will cease to exist from 1st February.
Trade mark infringement is not something to take lightly, whether you’re a worldwide sensation or running your business from a small-town office.
The owner of a trade mark has every right to issue proceedings against another mark that would be classed as confusingly similar or identical to the consumer and, as we can see from this scenario, using your celebrity image is not a good enough excuse for infringing on another’s registered mark.
When considering using a brand for commercial reasons ensure you have carried out trade mark searches to be certain that you can use that brand for the purposes you want without infringing on another registered trade mark.
Briffa are experts in all aspects of trade mark law and practice, including all contentious and non-contentious matters. If you would like some advice regarding your trade mark portfolio or dispute, or if you would just like to have a preliminary discussion about a trade mark issue, please do not hesitate to book a free consultation by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7288 6003.
Written by Joshuanne Amachie – Paralegal