Does Trademark Law Have Room For A Sense Of Humor? Dolce & Gabbana Sue Dolce & Banana

from the now-if-there-was-something-that-rhymed-with-dolce dept

It appears that Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana doesn't feel that trademark law has room for jokes. It has sued a small Capetown, South Africa store called "Dolce & Banana." It seems like the shop might have a reasonable parody defense, but in the end, it really is just a joke. Is anyone actually fooled into thinking this shop is somehow connected with the luxury brand? That seems doubtful. Either way, the store has changed its name from Dolce & Banana:
To just "... & Banana"
Of course, the woman who runs the store, Mijou Beller, apparently took to Twitter asking the luxury firm why it was bothering:
“Dear Stefano, please let us be. And visit us in Cape Town. I have always admired your famous sense of humor so present in your brand and in your designs. And although I appreciate that Dolce & Gabbana is a very successful commercial enterprise, I fail to understand why Dolce and Banana is a threat.”
In the end, it's that final point that is the key. How was this brand doing any damage at all to D&G?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

    " might have a reasonable parody defense"

    Well, I don't think so. Even though it's not a legal standard by any stretch, the sign is enough to probably confuse idiots in a hurry, who might only look at the first half of the sign (and the &) and not really look further.

    It should also be pointed out that the sign's font is VERY similar, which could add to the confusion.

    I would suspect that a sign in a different format with a different look might not have attracted so much attention.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Elise, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

    Parody

    How about Dulce & Banana?

     

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  3.  
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    MrWilson, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 8:56pm

    The best response would be to change the name to Douchey & Banana.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 9:03pm

    This is why you should never allow lawyers to play in the Board Room. Their first instinct is to file a lawsuit even if it is pointless and ends up hurting the company in the long run.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Torg (profile), Apr 11th, 2012 @ 9:05pm

    Now they're infringing on Banana Republic's trademark. They just don't know when to stop.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    Re:

    You sir are an idiot

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 9:31pm

    Why are companies still letting their lawyers drag their brand names through the mud in these desperate attempts to rack up billable hours?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    apauld, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 10:58pm

    Re:

    So, I gather from your response; that you would have been fooled about the relationship between a high end Italian brand name, and a outback South African store. That says much more about you than it does about anything else.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 11th, 2012 @ 11:11pm

    The damaged D&G by existing and forcing them to look like tiny minded, money grubbing, dickheads who have no sense of humor when they sued a tiny little business.
    They will bellow and moan about how they were "forced" to do this or suddenly their entire brand would be up for grabs by anyone, blithely ignoring there are much easier ways to solve these sorts of disputes and you could create amazing good PR for the brand by not looking like giant asses.

    But when your allegedly dodging taxes, using "gang rape" images to sell your brand, and generally being dicks to your Hong Kong customers, I guess anything is fair game.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolce_%26_Gabbana#Controversies

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Drew (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 1:18am

    You know what needs to happen... You see all these fucking companies using lawsuits to hurt the little guy. They damn well know they are going to be thrown out but the damage has already been done."Costing them time/money they can't afford" They need to make the companies that bring the worthless lawsuits against others 100% responsible for cash reimbursement for the courts cost and time and the person/s involved.

    That means all lawyer cost plus time and they should be fucking harsh when it comes to time. There are plenty more things the courts could be doing. "LIKE SENDING KILLERS AND RAPIST TO PRISON"
    (Also yes I realize them types of trials are going to be with another judge) ((HOWEVER There would be more resources for it if not wasted on pointless bullshit))

    If they would just teach a few of these mother fuckers a lesson I guarantee the numbers would drop based on the fact they already know the only point of their lawsuits is to cost people money who simply cannot afford it.

    My new view of Dolce & Gabbana I hope someone gives them a good dose of chainsaw rape. It's basically what their doing to the little guys.

    Signed,
    Ben Dover

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 2:22am

    they only sued because they can, knowing full well that the little shop would be forced to back down as it has insufficient money to put up a legal defense. basically, regardless of right or wrong, the wealthy bully wins yet again. pathetic!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 2:43am

    Re: Re:

    No, he didnt get that far into rational thought. It was just simply the first instinct that his fingers where able to type. Anything more, a counter point of some type, is just to much to ask from the likes of him.

    To say he was aware of anything, name or otherwise, is giving to much credit.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 2:53am

    Rename it Dunce & Banana.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    LazyDave, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 3:24am

    It's tempting to think this is another of those David vs. Goliath scenarios, though I wonder about a few things. Namely, if Dolce & Gabbana is arguably well-known in Cape Town, has established trademark rights there, etc.

    From reading this story:

    http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/going-bananas-5836227

    It seems they've been at it since six years ago. Of course, it's D&G's burden to prove consumers are indeed likely to be confused with D&B, but using one's financial muscle does seem more practical.

    Alas, it's still sad to see things like this happen.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 3:33am

    The problem is: the banana part is the Dolce.

     

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  16.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 4:34am

    Re:

    Nah..

    "Dolce & Gabbana R Dickheads"

    parody, hyperbolic and non-confusing

    Also the South Africa community would most likely agree with that sentiment reducing further the moronic ability for the company to take action, including on defamation (since it's hyperbole with maybe a kernelk of truth too)

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    Re:

    I thought the same thing, but who would want to go into a store called Douchey?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    Dulce et decorum est, pro patria banana

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    Dolce & Gabbana make some of the ugliest crap I have ever seen, and why anyone thinks that riffing off their name would be a plus it beyond me. I could afford to buy their crap, but since it is crap, why would I? With them, Coach, Louis Vuitton and other "haute" gimcrackery makers, the world is a much uglier place than it should be.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    RonKaminsky (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 6:41am

    Encouraged by bad law

    Trademarks which are not actively enforced have been rescinded by the courts. This leads to all kinds of silly things, like this lawsuit. It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that D&G's trademark will somehow become genericized, since their product isn't sufficiently unique, nor does it have an overwhelming market share.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    David (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: Parody

    I was thinking the same thing... But Spanish is not very common in South Africa.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re:

    in a hurry

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re:

    "That says much more about you than it does about anything else."

    Yes, it says I have traveled the world extensively, lived in different countries and cities, and learned that what passes for a store in your neighborhood might not be the same as it looks in other places.

    You probably need to get out more.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    Torg (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, you're seriously proposing that South Africans might confuse Dolce & Banana with an Italian luxury brand?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Nike doesnt like Mikes

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Digitari, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    ^this, this is so beautiful, I think I'm gonna cry

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, I am saying that location isn't enough to excuse a clear attempt to play off a trademark - but that play off the trademark is enough to perhaps risk the trademark if it isn't zealously protected in that country.

    It is never as simple as Marcus tries to make it look.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    apauld, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ha! It is never as simple as Marcus tries to make it look. You may think I need to get out more (which I actually don't), but you certainly need better reading skills.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Parody

    ...and Italian is?

    Honest question.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Torg (profile), Apr 12th, 2012 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Parody

    Spanish with a different accent.

    Seriously, a Mexican can get around Rome as easily as an American can get around London.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 9:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    >Yes, it says I have traveled the world extensively, lived in different countries and cities, and learned that what passes for a store in your neighborhood might not be the same as it looks in other places.

    Then you, sir, should have the tact to realise that you are a living insult to me, my culture and my country. What passes for normal for you might be completely unacceptable in other places. As the embodiment of this rule I therefore request that you jump off a cliff as is rightfully deserved in our culture.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 11:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Work at it. One day you can be just like Marcus, a mindless ass kisser!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait a minute, your name isn't Marcus.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Ellen Huntington, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    DG

    Another scandal is gonna pop up, Dolce and Gabbana opened 2weeks ago a store in Kiev, Ukraine, in. Shopping center Mandarin Plaza. It is worth mentioning that Mandarin Plaza is owned by a dangerous and FBI wanted criminal, Semion Mogilevich. Looks like the designers are looking for troubles...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    paolo, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 6:25am

    Mandarin Plaza, DG and Semion Mogilevich

    Yes, It is true, I read this story lately which makes me feel truly sick, as sometimnes you believe that such a powerful brand should only polay fair. Nothing more misleading. Dolce and Gabbana got straight directly into avoiding paying taxes in their own country, and now they cooperate with a dangferous Criominal semion Mogilevich in Mandarin Plaza Kiev. Thats a real scandal, however, I am sure they will win all the casesa and pay many bribes anyway...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Pamela, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Re: Mandarin Plaza, DG and Semion Mogilevich

    I am shocked! That's can be truth! I hope Dolce and Gabbana didn't know that Mandarin Plaza be owned by criminal person like Semion Mogilevich. Why they make a bussines with such person? It destroys a good reputation!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Armando, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re: Mandarin Plaza, DG and Semion Mogilevich

    OMG:) Darling,m the point is, they have no reputation at all so there is nothing to destroy. Have you heard about Hong Kong racism and tax evasion? and now by opening a store in a shopping Center in Kiev,( mandarin Plaza as I remember is quite new) owned by a criminal ( quite serious,by the way, i checked in google)they just proved that they have no reputation.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    ChocolateGirl, Sep 26th, 2012 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Mandarin Plaza, DG and Semion Mogilevich

    I tought that Dolce and Gabbana be able to open the store in Kiev without help of the Russian Mafia and the gangster as Semion Mogilevich!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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