As we told you back in April, the MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism has been speaking out against Roberto Cavalli, who has reportedly stolen its trademarked logo and put it front and center in his Just Cavalli fragrance campaign. The MTO Shahmaghsoudi School, which has since staged protests worldwide in connection with Cavalli’s use of its sacred symbol, had not filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Italian design when we originally reported on the story, even though the school has held a federally registered trademark for its logo design since 1987 in classes that extend to jewelry, religious publications, table cloths, and other goods. That changed, however, on July 18th, when the MTO filed suit against Roberto Cavalli, S.P.A. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is Los Angeles.
According to the MTO’s complaint, which cites both federal and common law trademark infringement and trademark dilution, Lanham Act violations, and federal unfair competition (False Designation of Origin and False Description), it “is informed and believes that [Roberto Cavalli] has manufactured, sourced, marketed, and/or sold substantial quantities of perfume bottles, shirts, watches, shoes, and other garments bearing the Sacred Emblem or a simulation of [its] Sacred Emblem which is virtually identical thereto.” The complaint further alleges that Cavalli has also exploited the MTO’s “Sacred Emblem in advertising campaigns in which the symbol appears to have been tattooed onto unclothed models … [Cavalli] recreates the shape of the Sacred Emblem out of intertwined snakes, suggesting a reference to the iconography of original sin. This is completely opposing the [MTO’s] beliefs and goodwill symbolized by the Sacred Emblem.”
The MTO is seeking remedies for Cavalli’s violations of its trademark (think: an injunction preventing Cavalli from using the mark and an award of “monetary damages along with an award of enhanced or exemplary damages, and attorney fees due to [Cavalli’s] deliberate and willful conduct, and all costs and expenses incurred in this action”). But that is not all, as the MTO is asking the court to cancel Cavalli’s trademark registration for the design at issue. Cavalli’s federal trademark registration, which was formally registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in September 2012, extends to a “mark [that] consists of a highly fanciful design of two snakes with elongated tails, wrapped around each other in a stylized manner to form two “C”s in a mirror image,” and covers an array of classes of goods/services, including clothing, cosmetics, glasses, jewelry, and various leather goods – just to name a few. The MTO claims that the mark “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter, or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with Plaintiff, MTO and/or their beliefs or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”
More to come, but in the meantime, sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts on the lawsuit and whether you think Roberto Cavalli is channeling the MTO symbol with his Just Cavalli campaigns …