Macy's, The Department Store Chain, Forces A Tiny Hair Salon In Scotland To Change Its Name

from the hair-apparent dept

Macy’s, the enormous retail company famous for its enormous department stores, has been featured in our pages before throwing its weight around over trademark concerns. If you had thought that the company has ceased its trademark-bullying ways, a recent report featuring a tiny hair salon in Scotland named after the founding couple’s daughter will disabuse you of this notion.

Jon and Kirsty Nelson named their West Lothian business Macys after their daughter, little imaging they would shortly face the wrath of corporate America. The couple received a letter from a London law firm acting on behalf of Cincinnati-based Macy’s, alleging trademark infringement.

Macy’s is worth £6bn, has almost 900 stores, stocks products by Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, and Calvin Klein, and sells mink fur coats for £8,500. Their Bathgate “rivals”, Macys Lounge, offer female customers a cut and blowdry for £30 while men can get a cut for £9, or £13 if they want a shampoo.

Now, it should be noted that Macy’s department stores do include spas that provide hair and beauty services. The company does have valid trademark for these services as well. All that being said, the idea that there would be any true confusion in the marketplace between these department store spas and a tiny storefront salon in Bathgate is plainly absurd. To drive this point home, the nearest Macy’s department store is several thousand miles away.

But, as we’ve mentioned many times before, trademark bullying works. The couple behind the salon announced recently that they would change the name of their business. Though, for those that appreciate a dash of trolling in their lives, the change the couple made might not be exactly what Macy’s had in mind.

“ We wanted to fight this battle, David and Goliath style, but we did not have the funding or resources available to do so and were somewhat backed into a corner to ‘angrily’ agree to their terms of changing our name.

“We give you : MACIZ Lounge.

“This will be our new trading name from March 2018 going forward. It is still similar to what we currently use.”

And, so, the full weight of the Macy’s legal efforts managed to get a couple of letters changed, and that’s about it. The pronunciation for the business remains the same. Most of the name remains. Don’t get me wrong, this is a massive pain in the ass that costs very real money, and a situation the couple should never have had to go through, but the results of the trademark bullying are rather beautifully silly.

Not that patrons of the salon are laughing.

Social media users wanted to show their support for the salon and were quick to show their outrage at the American outfit.

Erin Thomson said: “And here was me thinking you guys were a branch of Macy’s famous NY department store opening in Bathgate and specialising in haircuts. Silly me. Maciz Lounge sounds fab”

Helen Wilson posted: “It’s an absolute disgrace a huge organisation can victimise a small family business.”

Jamie Cameron commented: “Clearly they know you guys are on the road to world domination and are terrified. Stuff them guys.”

Macy’s may not care about these responses, given that, again, these are not even potential customers, since there are no Macy’s department stores anywhere nearby. Still, from a branding perspective, this isn’t a great way to make the brand friends around the globe.

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Companies: macy's

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Comments on “Macy's, The Department Store Chain, Forces A Tiny Hair Salon In Scotland To Change Its Name”

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OldGeezer (profile) says:

Didn't even know Macy's were still around

I can remember when there was a Macy’s store in every city of any size in Kansas. I did a search & it looks like there are only 4 left, all within the Kansas City area. I guess in this hick state, not even a city the size of Wichita has a market for their overpriced crap any more. I guess if you can’t sell shit to snobs with the price jacked up over the name on the label, you might have to do some trolling make up the difference.

PaulT (profile) says:

Although obviously it’s been around for a long length of times, I’ll just repeat what I usually say in these cases – if you don’t want to pay lawyers to make ridiculous claims against innocent people, don’t name your store after a common name, noun or place. The company must truly have money to burn in order to go after unrelated companies in countries where it doesn’t have any physical presence.

Anonymous Coward says:

They're still alive?

Funny I hadn’t heard of or gone to one for quite a while. I thought they died out along with many other department stores.

This crap outright undermines rule of law. Look at Ausralia’s Hungry Jacks – the local name for Burger King because the owner of the locally preexisting Burger King refused to sell the name. That was exactly how it should work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do they even have Macy’s department stores in Scotland? I thought they were only in the U.S. What confusion is there to be had among consumers, then?

Also, I thought common words and names that are yoinked out of dictionaries and baby name books could only be trademarked within your industry. This is, what I understand, to be the reason why companies like Apple Computers and Apple Auto Glass can coexist without suing each other, because they aren’t in related industries.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Do they even have Macy’s department stores in Scotland?”

Nope. But, according to their website it’s one of the countries they deliver to, which is probably the “logic” used by whichever lawyers needed a few extra billable hours.

“Also, I thought common words and names that are yoinked out of dictionaries and baby name books could only be trademarked within your industry.”

That’s correct, to my knowledge. But, the fact is that to enforce the rules you have to fight it out in court. The family in question here decided to change their name instead of fighting. So, it doesn’t matter who was really right, the bullying worked.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

It's Really Shillito's From Cincinnati

Well, Macy’s was taken over by Federated Department Stores, back in 1994, so it is really Federated Departmetn Stores, and FDS is now located in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the true name is that of the Cincinnati store, Shillito’s. The downtown Cincinnati Shillito’s no longer exists as a department store. A matter of twenty or thirty years ago, it was converted to a downtown mall, and I believe it is now office space and apartments.

Federated/Macy’s/Shillito’s seems to have absorbed nearly every mid-range department store which ever existed in an American downtown, outside of New York. Of course, the whole category has been in decline for yearts. Midrange customers started going to suburban malls, and then shopping in mail-order catalogs, then online. Declining industries consolidate.

I remember being taken shopping at Shillito’s as a kid, maybe fifty years ago, by my mother (new clothes for school), and having lunch at the restaurant. I suppose I must have eaten a hamburger and fries, the kids’ menu, but the adult’s menu would have been something like an open-faced sandwich of sliced roast beef with gravy on toast, with mashed potatoes and pickle on the side. Basic Midwestern German heartland fare. You could get that kind of thing in little diners in all the more “volkisch” neighborhood shopping districts.

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