Madonna fans in California might be interested to know that the singer now faces a lawsuit from Hard Candy, a Florida company that makes clothing and accessories geared towards young women. The company claims that the singer is violating the company's trademark by attempting to license clothing and fitness clubs under the name Hard Candy Fitness.
A June 19 lawsuit filed in federal court names Madonna, MGHCandy, Epic Rights and Madonna's manager Guy Oseary in the action. Hard Candy's suit alleges that the company has sold eyeglasses, cosmetics and clothing under the Hard Candy name since 1995. The company applied for and a received a trademark in 1996 for nail polish and has gained other licensing since 2009. Hard Candy previously filed a suit against the fitness company in 2014, and the case has since been transferred to Los Angeles from Miami.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused an intent-to-use trademark when Hard Candy Fitness applied to use the name for athletic apparel. The suit says that the defendants are still using the name and promoting Hard Candy Fitness apparel on the Internet while trying to license the name. In the complaint, Hard Candy cites dilution and unfair competition along with trademark infringement and asks for punitive damages, an injunction and the transfer of any trademarks granted to the defendants.
The trademarking process can be complicated because not every company registers a mark or logo with the USPTO. Registering a mark makes it a valid part of a company, but companies may still have some claim to a mark even if it is not registered. An intellectual property attorney might provide advice to a client that is interested in protecting its brand.