16 May 2018

Burberry sets aim at Target

The luxury brand has launched a lawsuit against the US retailer for using its signature check

Burberry has filed against major US retail giant Target in a $8 million-plus trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit. The luxury brand alleges the retail giant has indulged in “repeated, willful, and egregious misappropriation of Burberry’s famous and iconic check trademarks” and is selling “blatant reproductions” of Burberry’s world famous check mark. The suit claims this has been going on for over a year and Target has refused to stop.

Confusion
On the litmus test of confusion, Burberry states that even though “Target’s copycat scarves are of inferior quality, they are superficially indistinguishable from genuine Burberry scarves,” consumers are likely to be misled as to whether the “infringing products are either affiliated with, endorsed or authorized by, or somehow connected to Burberry, or that the infringing products sold and promoted by Target are genuine Burberry products.” Burberry states that Target’s history of collaborations with popular brands and designers makes this confusion likely. Target has responded it has “great respect for design rights” and is seeking to address the matter “in a reasonable manner.”

Cease and desist
Burberry says that early in 2017 Target began selling a number of “products bearing unauthorized copies of the Burberry check trademark,” including “eyewear, luggage, and water bottles.” In response, they sent the retailer with a cease and desist letter, alerting it of Burberry’s exclusive rights in the checkered pattern. This was ignored as several months later Target, as Burberry notes, “despite being aware of Burberry’s exclusive trademark rights” began offering a number of scarves for sale, bearing Burberry’s legally-protected check print. Burberry is seeking injunctive relief to bar Target from selling goods bearing Burberry’s checkered mark, and enhanced statutory damages of $2 million for each trademark that counterfeited and/or infringed, plus “profits, damages and fees, to the full extent available” and punitive damages stemming from Target’s particularly “egregious misappropriation.”