If you’re like me, you’ll love spouting off the plethora of well-known names in your make-up bag. Even more so, you’ll love checking your eyeliner with your Bobbi Brown compact (encased in that sleek black and white packaging), applying your MAC lipstick (emblazoned with the iconic brand name across the tube) and popping the products away carefully in your neat Chanel make-up bag. And that’s because names and, more specifically, branding, can make or break a brand. Which is why companies work so damn hard to protect that well-thought out profile.
However, a strong, successful brand name will not only be the catalyst for ongoing success for an efficacious product offering, it can, and often does, bring about unwanted attention. While they say imitation is the best form of flattery, that’s not often the case for companies that will go above and beyond to stop rogue businesses feeding off their success and diluting their brand with copycat products that adopt an all-too-similar logo or company name.
Sephora has recently fallen foul to this, with a Malaysian store named – wait for it – Seffara – using near identical packaging as the famous US retailer, with social media awash with criticism of the blatant copyright. Coty has also recently lashed out at Excell Brands in a three-year trademark lawsuit, with the company said to be selling direct replicas of scents such as Calvin Klein, Chloe and Marc Jacobs, all fragrances sold under the Coty licence. Incidentally, the personal care giant won the lawsuit – a landmark win that highlights the seriousness placed on imitation cases.
However, a less educated outsider might question the problem with these cases. So what if Excell Brands takes off Coty’s products? The latter is clearly superior? Everyone knows it’s a fake right? That may be correct, and Seffara may be a clear matchymatchy rip off, but the knock offs without doubt weaken a brand’s superiority and luxury status. Which is why trademark protection is becoming an increasingly important part of a brand’s journey, especially now that cross-sector ventures are becoming such an essential part of a company’s growth and longevity plans.
Speaking to WWD.com, Monica B. Richman and Jonathan Malki discussed how trademarking a well-known brand is essentially, well, essential. Speaking of the recent successful application by Chanel to prevent the registration of a mark similar to its famous interlocking CC logo in accounting services no less, they said, “The decision flows from the principle that some trademarks have become so famous that virtually any use of a similar mark is likely to call to mind and dilute the famous brand — in other words, Chanel trademarks mean Chanel whether they appear on ballet flats or tax forms.”
Indeed, they go on to say that ‘expansion-minded’ business should not only protect themselves within their industry – in this case beauty – but in all other areas they foresee the company developing. And with the crossover between industries such as athleisure and retailtainment continuing at a rate of knots – is there any industry that beauty companies should leave untouched? If they also want a brand that is untouched, it seems not. If they too want to avoid an awkward #bitchstolemylook moment, it’s time to trademark, trademark, trademark folks.