The Virgin Group Disputes Trademark Application Of Tiny Olive Oil Company Vasse Virgin Because Of Course They Did
from the oily dept
The Virgin Group, headed up by Richard Branson, has something of a reputation for being promiscuous when it comes to trademark disputes over the word “Virgin.” At times, it seems like whatever lawyers are working for Virgin actually think that any business using the word needs a bit of slapping around, even when there is essentially zero chance of customer confusion. In one case, in which Virgin had targeted a small jeans maker called I Am Not A Virgin out of NYC, the founder of that company quipped in a video whether or not Branson would think that people walking by “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” would be confused into thinking that Virgin Group had something to do with it.
Hahahahahaha… Oh, shit. It turns out Branson does think that’s the case. Well, sort of.
[Virgin Group] believes customers might get confused and associate Vasse Virgin products with its renowned global brand. The local company has 23 staff and produces olive oil-based food, soap and skin-care products. Co-owner Edwina Scherini said Vasse Virgin recently tried to register a logo using the same name since 2009.
“The Virgin Group has objected to the application, claiming the right to exclusive use of the word ‘virgin’,” she said.
Yes, a tiny Autralian olive oil company is now in a trademark dispute with the Virgin Group and we all have to watch what we say from now on, lest we give Mr. Branson any ideas. Now Virgin Group claims on the record that the two companies do indeed compete with one another within relevant industries that would be covered by the trademark, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where that’s the case. Looking through some information on what Virgin makes, I don’t find foodstuffs or olive oil making the list. Regardless, I find it fairly unlikely that anyone is going to confuse Vasse Virgin’s oils with something created by the enormous Virgin Group, considering there are no common features in the logos or the marks themselves, beyond the use of the word Virgin. Couple that with Virgin’s reputation for being overly protective, and this seems to reek of a legal department with too much time on its hands.
But Virgin says this has nothing to do with olive oil. It’s about transportation services contained in the application.
Virgin Group Asia Pacific brand public relations and digital communications manager Elizabeth Gain said the trademark application “covers a very broad range of goods and services, some of which fall squarely into the core activities of the Virgin Group, in particular transportation services”.
“Our concerns do not relate to use of the name in connection with olive oil products,” she said.
If that were the case, the whole dispute could be easily dismissed with Vasse Virgin assuring everyone that they didn’t have enough time in between making olive oil containers to create an international airline. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though, as the demands from Virgin Group have been numerous.
Mrs Scherini said lawyers for the two companies have discussed the matter since 2013.
“Vasse Virgin agreed to a number of demands, apart from one that we felt may have the capacity to cause serious damage to our business in the future,” she said. Mrs Scherini said the process had been “extremely stressful” emotionally and financially.
Branson and his team bullying a small, unrelated business through trademark? I am so shocked!