Shopping mall brand Aeropostale has hit Swedish fast fashion giant H&M with a trademark infringement lawsuit. In NYC-based Aeropostale's complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York this week, the teen-friendly retailer alleges that H&M is selling garments and accessories bearing the phrase “Live Love Dream”, "Aerospace" and other federally registered Aeropostale trademarks. The suit comes on the heels of Aero sending H&M a couple cease and desist letters, which seemingly garnered no results. According to the complaint, “Despite receiving this notice, and subsequent notice that is also infringing other marks owned by Aeropostale Procurement, H&M continues to display and/or sell products bearing numerous trademarks owned and used by Aeropostale."
The suit, which will ultimately settle out of court (because H&M's legal team is completely familiar with type of proceeding by now and won't waste resources by going to trial), makes sense. Both brands are situated in a relatively similar position in the market, and thus, very likely vie for the same customers. And while this is an important factor in regards to the underlying theory of trademark law (which is to prevent consumer confusion), there is a more important aspect to the suit.
With intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights, etc.) amounting to one of a brand's most valuable assets, it is in brands' best interest to police their marks, which means filing an array of trademark infringement lawsuits every year (or if you're Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Coach or even Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Ugg boots' parent company), which are all copied with a very high frequently, a slew of suits every month) against everyone from fellow retailers to online counterfeiters. The cost of filing such a suit is merely a drop in the bucket in comparison to the resources that have been and continue to be spent to situate your brand as one of luxury (or affordable luxury in Uggs' case). The duty of policing a trademark (aka making sure others aren't using it without your authorization and thus, leading to the genericization of your mark), is on the trademark owner, which is why most brands are on top of it. Case in point: Coach has filed roughly 20 trademark infringement lawsuits so far this year in the U.S., often naming upwards of 100 defendants in a single suit.
As for why H&M has taken to copying Aeropostale, as opposed to Carven or Prada or Celine, is beyond me.