Dermalogica filed a suit in a California district court earlier this week, alleging the big-box retailer started selling select products in some California stores, as well as through target.com, in the fall of 2017.
In the complaint, the California-based company said Unilever, Dermalogica’s parent company, owns the trademark rights for the brand and asserted that Dermalogica products are available through authorized sellers and the Dermalogica web site only.
“Dermalogica goes to great lengths to control the quality of goods bearing the Dermalogica trademark,” read the court documents for the case.
In fact, one of the requirements to become an authorized Dermalogica seller is having “professional skin-care therapists,” or state-licensed, skin-care therapists, readily available to assist customers.
Target, the complaint says, does not have these specialists and is therefore not eligible to be a seller.
In addition, the specialty beauty company said some of the products sold on Target shelves are expired. Authorized Dermalogica products are also required to have authenticity holograms and quality control tags. But the court documents say Target replaced Dermalogica’s tags with counterfeit labels and has been using its own displays to sell products, displays that includes misleading information.
In one example highlighted in court documents, a display in a Target store says Dermalogica’s Active Moist product will “prevent future breakouts.”
“Actually, the product is designed and marketed by Dermalogica for moisturizing only and has no acne-inhibiting qualities,” the court documents state.
Dermalogica also limits the countries in which it sells products, and said products sold in other countries, such as Canada, do not comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements.
The company said in its most recent court filing that it asked the Target Corporation to remove products and notify customers of the unauthorized products as early as October 2017, but said Target ignored requests.
Dermalogica is claiming unfair competition in addition to trademark violation and asked the courts to order Target to remove its products immediately because it is confusing to customers. According to U.S. trademark laws, confusing customers is grounds for trademark infringement.
Target told WWD: “Target works with a vendor to sell Dermalogica products and we’ve been repeatedly assured of the authenticity of the product. We’re aware of the legal concerns raised and have requested that our vendor respond on behalf of Target.”