Legal action filed against US pop star Katy Perry over her name

What happens when your name is your brand, and you share that name with one of the biggest stars on the planet? We are about to find out as two Katy Perrys go head to head.

An Australian fashion designer who shares her name with the pop princess has described the trademark battle as a real ‘David and Goliath’ fight after filing legal action against her in the Federal Court.

The trademark scrap first dates back to 2009, when Katy Perry the megastar attempted to stop Katy Perry the Aussie seamstress from trademarking her name. The Sydney born designer won her first battle with the Firework singer, but now the stage is set for around two.

To prove that California girls are unforgettable, US Katy has gone on to launch her successful range of clothing in Australia, which Aussie Katy wasn’t going to take lying down. She filed in court under her married name Katie Taylor, the name we’ll refer to her as from here on out to make things much less confusing.

Mrs Taylor started her brand back in 2006, two years before the American Katy Perry shot to fame, calling her clothing line the Katy Perry Collection.

She was at great pains to file for legal action, due to the potential costs it could rack up, but said she felt she had no choice:

“I have been powerless to act. My friends have warned me against doing this but I want to be an example to my children.”

Mrs Taylor also views it as a matter of principle and sticking up for the right to use your own name.

“I am fighting not just for myself, but for all small businesses in this country who can be bullied by these overseas entities who have much more financial power than we do.”

Initially worried about the potential costs a legal challenge could bring, decided to pursue things further when she gained the support of Litigation Capital Management Limited, who helped her get the legal funding she will need. With the case yet to be heard, this one could take a while to resolve.

Trademark rules to follow

If Mrs Taylor does indeed have a valid trademark on her clothing brand’s name in Australia, then it looks like it could quite easily be a case of infringement by the US star. As has been seen already this month, the luxury car company Bentley went up against the family-run Bentley Clothing business and lost the right to use their car-name branding on clothing they sell. To have the protection in place from the outset makes a huge difference if a much bigger business comes along and tries to push you around.

These cases have grabbed all the headlines because of the notable people and brands that are involved. Most companies that think ahead and secure the rights to a trademark early never have to do battle with giants. But for the ones that don’t secure trademarks, they are sitting fish in a barrel for anyone and everyone to take a pop at. In terms of China and Taiwan, the biggest threat is the huge increase in ‘trademark squatting’. This is where an entity scopes out companies that haven’t bothered getting trademarks, then buys the rights to their name under their name, holding the businesses to ransom.

It’s the big names that play out in the headlines, but when it comes to trademarks, it’s often the little ones you have to watch out for. Securing a trademark early is the easy way to banish them.