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Image: Hypebeast

HYPEBEAST is not affiliated with a similarly-named pets brand. That is what the Hong Kong-headquartered menswear media behemoth asserts in a newly-filed lawsuit against defendant Jonathan Anand, centering on his budding young brand Hypebeast Pets. According to a trademark suit filed in New York federal court last week, HYPEBEAST claims that Anand is running afoul of the law by adopting such a near-identical name for his pets-wear company and also engaging in a number of other efforts aimed at  “intentionally deceiving consumers” into believing he is connected with the wildly successful media property.

In its 40-page lawsuit, counsel for HYPEBEAST asserts that more than a decade after the media company got its start and was one of – if not the – first online entities to make use of the word hypebeast, a term that Urban Dictionary defines as an individual that collects trendy clothing, shoes, and accessories for “the sole purpose of impressing others,” Anand launched his like-named brand.

Under the name Hypebeast Pets, Anand sells “apparel, supplies and toys for pets,” much of which makes use of the trademark-protected names and logos of “streetwear and luxury fashion brands, including Stussy, Supreme, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace and Burberry, among others,” without “the knowledge or consent of these brands.” (Such behavior by Anand gives rise to separate infringement and dilution claims for the brands whose trademarks are being used without their authorization, although no such suits have been filed).

But more than merely adopting a copycat name, HYPEBEAST asserts that Anand has copied the “overall look and feel of [HYPEBEAST’s] website,” has gone even further by “copying the exact style and font for HYPEBEAST used by the plaintiff on [his] own website; positioning the HYPEBEAST name in the upper left corner of the infringing website [just] as the plaintiff does on its own website; and copying precisely the HB icon featured on the browser tab” on HYPEBEAST’s website.

 image via complaint image via complaint

HYPEBEAST – which made its stock market debut on Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market in April 2016 and raised $8.4 million – claims that with the foregoing in mind, Anand “has wrongfully exploited the expansion of the HYPEBEAST brand,” which now includes sister sites HYPEBAE and HYPEKIDS, and is “intentionally [trying] to deceive consumers into believing that [HYPEBEAST] either is associated with or endorses [his] infringing website, which is not the case.”

Despite alerting Anand of his infringement of its trademarks, and demanding that he cease and desist such use, HYPEBEAST claims in its complaint that he has continued to “willfully infringe upon” its valuable marks.  As such, HYPEBEAST has set forth claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, false endorsement, and unfair competition, among others, and is seeking relief in the form of a permanent injunction to bar Anand from “directly or indirectly infringing [its] registered marks or competing unfairly with [it] in any manner.”

The menswear media company is also seeking an array of damages, including actual and compensatory damages, and treble and punitive damages.

As for whether Anand has any potential parody claims here (i.e., with the “beast” in Hypebeast directly relating to the dogs and making some further commentary about this specific type of sartorial culture), that does not seem out of the question, particularly in front of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which sided with My Other Bag in a parody-centric fight over its use of Louis Vuitton’s trademarks in a few years ago. Both the SDNY and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the canvas tote bag-maker was not engaging in trademark infringement or dilution, as Louis Vuitton claimed, but instead, its use of the Paris-based brand’s Toile Monogram pattern amounts to fair use as a parody.

A fair use argument, would assume, of course, that Anand wants to (and can afford to) fight the case, as opposed to settling out of court in a more expedient and cost efficient manner.

The case is Hypebeast Hong Kong Limited v. Anand, 1:19-cv-08338 (S.D.N.Y.)