HIGH COURT TO HEAR VICTOR V. VICTORIA’S
Byline: Joanna Ramey
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court decided Monday to take on a four-year court battle over Victoria’s Secret’s defense of its trademarked name against a Kentucky lingerie and erotica store.
The case will be used to decide whether a company with a trademark has to demonstrate actual damages in order to prove their name has been illegally hijacked.
So far, Victoria’s Secret, a division of Columbus, Ohio-based The Limited, has demonstrated to lower courts that Victor’s Little Secret of Elizabethtown, Ky., violated the national lingerie chain’s trademark. Victor and Cathy Moseley originally called their shop Victor’s Secret and then inserted “Little” after Victoria’s Secret complained.
However, the change didn’t appease Victoria’s Secret, which went on to successfully claim in U.S. District Court that its trademark was being “diluted” by the Moseleys in violation of the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld this ruling.
“While no consumer is likely to go to the Moseleys’ store expecting to find Victoria’s Secret’s famed Miracle Bra, consumers who hear the name ‘Victor’s Little Secret’ are likely automatically to think of the more famous store and link it to the Moseleys’ adult-toy, gag gift and lingerie shop,” the Appeals Court ruled.
The couple decided to pursue the issue to the Supreme Court even though they subsequently changed their store name to Cathy’s Little Secret, which hasn’t met with objections from Victoria’s Secret.
While the 6th Circuit ruled that Victoria’s Secret didn’t have to prove financial harm by the Moseleys’, other circuits have taken an opposing view on the issue of damages. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey claim that Utah’s slogan “Greatest Snow on Earth” violated the circus’s trademarked slogan “Greatest Show on Earth.”