British shirtmaker Thomas Pink has been named the victorof a legal case against US fashion label Victoria's Secret over the right to use the word 'pink.'
Thomas Pink, owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH, filed an infringement case against Victoria's Secret last year, which accused the British branch of the lingerie label of confusing customers by selling products under its 'Pink' label.
Victoria's Secret first launched its 'Pink' line in 2002, which is aimed at young women between 14 and 22 years old. Since then the line has grown to become a label in its own right and includes an online community for fans of the label known as 'Pink Nation.'
On Thursday, Judge Colin Birss ruled in favor of Thomas Pink, holding that Victoria's Secret use of the word Pink in the UK infringe on Thomas Pink trademarks. He added that the similarities between the branding of the labels could led to customers in Europe associating Thomas Pink with the lingerie label.
Jonathan Heilbron, president of Thomas Pink, said that the shirtmaker is set to “continue to protect the considerable investment that has been made into building Thomas Pink into a leading luxury clothing brand.”
The ruling could see Victoria's Secret removing its Pink label from the UK. However Tom Carl, senior associate at international law firm Taylor Wessing, explains to Menswearinsight: “This decision gives Thomas Pink relative control over the use of the word pink as a brand in the fashion sector, and means that other traders will need to think carefully about how they use similar branding.”
“However, it doesn't give the company a complete monopoly – there were a number of specific factors in this case and other scenarios will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. For example, Victoria's Secret was not just using the word pink on its clothing, it had also launched stores under that name.”
“This decision does not mean it's open season for any fashion brand to trade mark and attempt to monopolise colour names. Thomas Pink's 'pink' trade mark is only registered in a specific logo form – not the word itself – and the court held that it was only valid due to having 'acquired distinctiveness' among consumers, having been used as a brand since the company opened its doors in 1984.”