After threatening to sue Etsy late last year over the sale of mugs that bore the word Feyoncé, megastar Beyoncé has filed suit against defendants Andre Maurice, Leana Lopez, and Lee Lee, and their brand, Feyonce. According to the complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, on Tuesday, the defendants “have willfully traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Beyoncé, arguably one of the most famous musical artists and entrepreneurs in the world” by offering for sale an array of “infringing merchandise including, but not limited to, the t-shirts, sweatshirts and mugs bearing the FEYONCÉ mark.”
The complaint, which cites claims of federal trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution, among a number of other statutory and common law violations, further alleges that defendants are willfully “[s]eeking to capitalize on the notoriety of ‘Single Ladies,’ with its famous lines ‘put a ring on it,’ [by] selling merchandise bearing the ‘FEYONCÉ’ mark – a misspelling of ‘fiancé’ intended to call to mind Beyoncé and her famous song.”
But the defendants have not merely stopped at selling the aforementioned merchandise (despite demands from the singer’s counsel); they want federal intellectual property rights in the Feyoncé name. The singer asserts in her complaint (as filed by her counsel at Pryor Cashman): “Defendant Maurice has also filed two U.S. trademark applications to register the FEYONCÉ mark and the FEYONCE mark for use in connection with, inter alia, Class 18 bags, Class 24 fabrics and/or Class 25 apparel. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected a similar application for the FEYONCE mark in the past on the ground that the FEYONCE mark is confusingly similar to the BEYONCÉ mark.”
The defendants’ use of the Feyoncé mark is allegedly “causing immediate and irreparable harm to [Beyoncé],” and as a result, the singer is seeking injunctive and monetary relief “on account of Defendants’ egregious, willful and wanton activities, including exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.”
Considering the recent pro-parody ruling in the Louis Vuitton vs. My Other Bag case, it will be interesting to see if the defendants attempt to fight this one on such grounds.