Legal Battle Brewing Over Target Name in Canada

Giant Target Corp. and small chain Target Apparel are suing each other.

MONTREAL — Will the real Target store please stand up?

This story first appeared in the January 19, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Target Corp., which is paying $1.8 billion to take over about 220 Zellers stores from the Hudson’s Bay Co. and convert them into Target stores by 2013, is facing a legal challenge to its name being used in Canada by a retailer of the same moniker.

There are already two Target Apparel stores in Canada owned by Isaac Benitah of Toronto, who also runs Canadian chains Fairweather and International Clothiers and doesn’t want to give up the Target name. But Target Corp. has asked the Federal Court of Canada for an injunction to ban Benitah from using the Target name and signature logo. Benitah responded on Monday by asking the court for exclusive rights to the name and is demanding $250 million in damages from Minneapolis-based Target Corp.

The U.S. retail giant has been fighting Benitah since 2002 over the rights to the name in Canada. Benitah acquired the Target Apparel brand for men’s clothing in 2001 from the failed retailer Dylex Ltd., which had owned Fairweather. About six months later, Target Corp. filed a challenge with the federal trademark office, which sided with it. But the Federal Court of Canada overturned the decision.

Last summer, Target Corp. filed another challenge with a Canadian trademark office, arguing that since Benitah hadn’t used the Target name for three years, his right to it had dissipated.

Benitah opened his first Target Apparel store in Toronto in 2005 and intends to open more, according to court documents.