trademark wars

Madonna Sued Over Material Girl Collection

Posted by Shirley Brady on August 23, 2010 10:35 AM

Madonna has been hit with a lawsuit over the rights to use the "Material Girl" name for her new teen clothing collection for Macy's.

Turns out the pop star, known as the "Material Girl" since she first made it big in the 1980s, never trademarked the name. Who did?

Apparently a clothing manufacturer based in Cerritos, California. L.A. Triumph Inc. says it has held the trademark for the name, under which its sells its line of juniors clothing line, since 1997.

L.A. Triumph's predecessor company — OC Mercantile Corp. — registered a state trademark for the term in 1997 in California, according to the complaint filed Aug. 19 in federal court in Los Angeles.

"Our client and its predecessor have been continually selling similar clothes in similar retail outlets at similar price points under their Material Girl brand since at least 1997 and Madonna and her newfound company do not have the right to trade in the same space under this brand," said an attorney with firm One LLP, representing L.A. Triumph. The attorney said their client faces "a risk of being subsumed by Madonna's profile, obvious worldwide notoriety" and massive marketing campaign.

L.A. Triumph claims because it used the mark first, Madonna and her MGB Inc. company have no right to the trademark, and that Madonna's “Material Girl” clothing and associated website infringe its trademarks and cause confusion in the marketplace. The company also objects to an application filed by Madonna's MGB Inc. with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December 2009 to register “Material Girl” as a trademark.

It asked the court to declare it alone has the right to the “Material Girl” mark for clothing, and that Madonna's pending trademark application should be denied. The company also requested money damages. It said it will add as defendants the retailers that are selling Madonna’s clothing line.

Madonna or Macy's have not yet publicly commented on the suit. Madonna's collection, designed with her daughter Lourdes (aka Lola), is fronted by Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen. The BBC recently used the term "Material Girl" as the name for a six-part scripted series about a fashion designer.

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