Chanel has prevailed in its lawsuit against salon owner, Chanel Jones. You may recall that in August 2014, the Paris-based design house filed suit against Indiana-based Jones allegedly ignored numerous cease-and-desist letters from Chanel demanding that she stop using her first name in connection with her business. In its complaint, Chanel claimed that Chanel’s Salon, a spa and beauty salon, infringes at least nine of its federally registered trademarks and is benefiting from the established reputation of the fashion house. Well, as of this past week, the court held that Jones’ use of the word CHANEL was, in fact, an infringement of Chanel’s trademark rights, and order Jones to cease use of the word by February 15, 2015.
Pursuant to a consent judgment signed this week, a District Court in Indiana is prohibiting Jones from using CHANEL in the name of her salon or “otherwise to identify any businesses, services or products and to refrain from all use of CHANEL in the promotion of her business, including as any part of an Internet keyword or search term, meta tag, keyword or source code.” While Jones claimed in her answer that she “in no way” named the salon CHANEL to gain popularity in connection with the appeal of the famed design house, she has agreed to change the name of the salon.
The judgment paid specific attention to the fact that Chanel is Jones’ first name, as did Chanel’s initial complaint, which asserted that Jones’ “unauthorized use of the infringing names for [her] beauty salon business allows [her] to capitalize on the fame, recognition, and goodwill of Chanel’s CHANEL mark and to create initial interest confusion by creating a false impression that Chanel is the source of or somehow sponsors [her] services.”
Moreover, according to Chanel, there is “no absolute right to exploit one’s given name commercially if such use is inconsistent with Chanel’s rights.” To this, the court held: “Nothing herein may be read to prohibit Jones from using her personal name solely in a personal, non-commercial capacity, or to otherwise identify herself, provided that Ms. Jones does not use her name in any manner that suggests an affiliation or relationship with Chanel.”
According to our friends over at Lexology, “this case is a reminder of the well-settled fact that an individual does not have an unfettered right to use their personal name for commercial purposes. There are a number of cases on this issue over the years involving well-known trademarks.”