We have written often on our Sacramento intellectual property blog about the disparity in sizes between companies that battle over intellectual property. In some cases, a well-known company goes on the offensive against a smaller rival that it thinks is infringing on its intellectual property by trying to pass itself off as the more-established brand. In other cases, it's the smaller company trying to stick up for itself when it feels that a big player in the industry is acting as a bully and misusing its ideas, trademarks or copyrights.
The situation we are writing about today concerns the latter iteration. A maker of lingerie is suing the big player in the market, Victoria's Secret, accusing the giant corporation of infringing on two of its trademarks. The smaller company, which is called Hanky Panky, positions itself as a manufacturer of "ultra sexy lingerie."
Hanky Panky says Victoria's Secret is offering a line of scented products for the home, including a candle, massage oil, perfume and a room spray, under the name "After Midnight." Hanky Panky says that it has a trademark on the phrase "After Midnight."
Similarly, a Victoria's Secret campaign for a line of sleepwear uses the phrase "indulge your inner flirt." Hanky Panky says it has a trademark on that phrase as well. Because Victoria's Secret is so much larger, Hanky Panky says it has to act lest it be overwhelmed by Victoria's Secret's use of the phrases.
Regardless of the size of the entity that may be infringing on your intellectual property, an experienced intellectual property attorney can offer advice to help navigate the situation.
Source: Bloomberg, "Nokia, Twitter, Victoria’s Secret: Intellectual Property," Victoria Slind-Flor, Nov. 4, 2013