Karen Millen loses trademark rights to her own name

The famous fashion designer has recently lost the right to use her own name for a new homeware chain that she had planned to launch in China and the US.

According to Fashion United UK, in 2004, Millen and her former husband, having founded the brand in 1981, decided to sell their shares in the company to an Icelandic company, Baugur Group. One of the terms of this agreement was that Millen would not be able to use her name as a brand in the future.

However, after the financial crisis in 2009, Baugur Group collapsed,the fashion company went into administration and it was renamed Karen Millen Fashions.

At this point, Millen tried to reverse the terms of the agreement to enable her to use her name as a brand in an unrelated sector. However, the High Court judge ruled in favour of the fashion brand, stating that the use of the name, even if it was for a different class of goods, would lead to customer confusion in the marketplace as to the source identity of the goods. Furthermore, the court believed that allowing Millen to use the name,  in a different sector would still be a breach of the original agreement that she had made with the fashion company. However, they did say that if she were only to trademark her first name then it could be accepted.

An important lesson that can be learnt from this case is that when trademarking your own name, it is better to licence it to others rather than sell it in order to avoid any future complications. As the Karen Millen case has proven, a trademark can be a very valuable asset as it will protect your brand and allow you to enforce your trademark rights over other companies that may infringe upon your mark.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website, http://www.lipex.com.
Our unique database of trademarks for sale or license could save you time and help protect your brand.