NEW YORK — May Department Stores has been prohibited from using the "Be" label for its new private label women’s program.

Bebe Stores Inc. was granted a preliminary injunction by a federal district court in its trademark infringement lawsuit against May. The suit, filed in August in a St. Louis federal court, also alleged unfair competition. Bebe claimed that May’s women’s line would be confusing to consumers.

Under the conditions of the district court ruling issued Monday, May cannot advertise or sell women’s apparel under the "Be" label or any other trademark that is "confusingly" similar to "Be" or Bebe. May is allowed to continue selling existing inventory until Dec. 31, but must post a notice to customers that the goods are not affiliated with or approved by Bebe in any way.

A spokeswoman for May said the firm was disappointed with the decision and would appeal it. May had applied for a trademark for the "Be" name, she said, but hadn’t gotten a response to its application.

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