Beyonce’s company, BGK Trademark Holding’s LLP is suing Feyoncé Inc., a San Antonio, Texas-based company.
The lawsuit claims the Feyonce’ brand infringes on the artist’s trademark, using her name and likeness to market their products for profit. The online store sells an array of apparel from tank tops to t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies baring the FEYONCE’ logo; as well as coffee mugs branded with the logo and other spins on the singer’s famous lyrics. Trademark applications for Feyonce and Feyonce’ was filed by Andre Maurice in November 2015.
According to San Antonio News-Express:
In the complaint, BGK says the opposing company has repeatedly ignored cease-and-desist letters, causing “irreparable harm” and confusing consumers who associated the brand with Beyoncé.
“Seeking to capitalize on the notoriety of Single Ladies, with its famous line ‘put a ring on it,’ defendants are selling merchandise bearing the ‘FEYONCÉ’ mark —a misspelling of ‘fiancé’ intended to call to mind Beyoncé and her famous song,” according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. district court in New York.
Knowles has not been shy about shutting down enterpreneurial ventures capitalizing on her famous song. Etsy.com, the online seller of handcrafted items and vintage clothing, pulled similar “Feyoncé” mugs early last year after her lawyers contacted the retailer and threatened to sue, celebrity website TMZ reported at the time.
In order to prove trademark infringement, Knowles would have to show that Feyoncé is using their brand in a way that’s likely to cause confusion between the singer and company in the marketplace, said Megan Carpenter, co-director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University.
Consumers could be confused whether the company belongs to the singer or whether it’s otherwise affiliated with or sponsored by her, Carpenter said.
“It will probably be a fairly easy hurdle to show that they’re using a trademark that is very similar to her mark,” Carpenter said.
Defendants could argue that their products constitute fair use under trademark law, Carpenter said.
But, there’s a potential hitch to that line of defense, she said.
“The more it starts to look like a brand or trademark, rather than an ornamental design on a shirt or social commentary on a shirt, the harder it will be for them” to cite fair use, Carpenter said.