By  on August 21, 2009

LONDON — Nude Brands lost the first skirmish in its legal war of words with Stella McCartney and L’Oréal Thursday.

London’s High Court rejected the natural skin care firm’s bid for an interim injunction to block the launch this weekend of the designer’s StellaNude fragrance. Nude is at loggerheads with Stella McCartney Ltd. plus McCartney’s license holder L’Oréal and its YSL Beauté division as it claims their use of the word “nude” in the scent’s name infringes on its trademark.

“The balance of injustice in this case requires me to refuse the injunction,” stated the judge in his judgment. “It seems to me that, in this particular case, the likely damage to [Stella McCartney Ltd.] and L’Oréal if an injunction is wrongly granted outweighs the damage to [Nude Brands Ltd.] if it is refused. Whilst [Nude] may ultimately prevail at the trial, it seems to me that an injunction and damages at that stage, though far from perfect remedies, are more likely to be able to restore them to their rightful position than an award of damages under the cross undertaking to [Stella McCartney Ltd.].

“The effect of an injunction wrongly granted against [Stella McCartney Ltd.] would be to cause a massive disruption to their business, and probably cause them to abandon use of the brand altogether. Against this I regard the likelihood of actual confusion between the products in the marketplace in the form in which they are currently presented as minimal.”

In his judgment, the judge said StellaNude products, with a wholesale value of 4.8 million euros, or $6.8 million at current exchange, have been manufactured for worldwide distribution and 26,000 units have already been shipped to retailers, including Boots and The Perfume Shop.

In a statement issued Thursday, Nude Brands said it considers the scent’s launch to be a clear infringement of its trademark.

“When asked for permission to use the trademark ‘nude’ for a Stella McCartney perfume, Nude — though great admirers of Stella McCartney — respectfully refused, as a Nude scent is forthcoming,” the company stated, adding Thursday’s ruling noted Nude has a clearly arguable claim of trademark infringement. “The judge also rejected L’Oréal’s arguments that Nude’s trademark in relation to perfume was obviously invalid saying he was not convinced ‘nude’ was descriptive of perfume.”

Nude, which was founded by entrepreneur Bryan Meehan and Ali Hewson, said the case will be heard next year. Hewson is also founder of the eco-luxury line Edun, and the wife of U2’s Bono.

YSL Beauté and Stella McCartney Ltd. stated they were pleased with the court’s decision and that the launch of StellaNude will proceed as planned.

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