Tuesday, February 18, 2014
It feels like Groundhog Day here at FirstNerve Manor: it’s snowing again and we’re reading another lawsuit against Preferred Fragrance, Inc. This time the case was filed by Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, sister companies owned by L Brands, Inc. (formerly Limited Brands). They allege trademark infringement by Preferred Fragrance and its corporate owners, as well as by Ezriel Polatsek, the former chief honcho of PF. (The new owners of PF fired him for cause last fall and are now suing him themselves. He’s suing them back.)
At issue are the VS Fantasies collection of fragrances (Vanilla Lace, Coconut Passion, Mango Temptation, etc.) and BBW’s Signature Collection (Pink Chiffon, Sweet Pea, Black Amethyst, etc.) To take just one example cited in the lawsuit, PF’s Vanilla Blossom “is positioned to compete directly against” VS’s Vanilla Lace by copying bottle shape, label design, and name. (Take a look at the images above and see what you think.)
Then there’s the matter of VS Coconut Passion versus PF Coconut Dream, VS Mango Temptation versus PF Mango Seduction, and so on.
According to the Federal Court filing on February 6, in the Southern District of Ohio, the Preferred Fragrance “business model involves copying the trade dress and trademarks associated with successful competitive products to gain a foothold in the market by trading on the reputations and goodwill established by others.” That’s standard boilerplate for trademark infringement claims. Adding some spice to the mix is the VS/BBW assertion that the defendants are “recidivist infringers” [Ouch!—Ed.] and that Ezriel Polatsek “exercised ultimate control over every aspect of the Infringing Products, from their design, development and naming to advertising, promotion, distribution and sales.” [Sounds like a Batman villain: The Infringer—Ed.]
VS/BBW want PF to stop producing and promoting the allegedly infringing goods; to destroy the remaining stock; to cough up all profits derived therefrom; to pay court costs and . . . oh yeah, treble damages. Plus they want a jury trial.
Looks like we’re going to have to order more popcorn along with this week’s shipment of rock salt. Stay tuned. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.