Image: Fenty

UPDATED (September 16, 2021): Likely the result of a confidential out of court settlement, the parties have managed to put the suit behind them. Before Savage X Fenty even filed its first formal response to the case, AdoreMe moved to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit that it filed, and the court closed the matter a day later.

Rihanna’s hot-selling Savage X Fenty venture is being sued by fellow undergarments-maker Adore Me. In the trademark infringement complaint that it filed in a federal court in California on Thursday, Adore Me claims that Lavender Lingerie, the company that does business as Savage X Fenty (“Savage”), is “blatantly and willfully trading upon Adore Me’s goodwill and infringing Adore Me’s intellectual property, including through [its] unauthorized use of a mark or marks confusingly similar to Adore Me’s ‘ADORE ME’ trademark in connection with [its sale of] clothing products, such as lingerie and related online retail services.” 

Setting the stage in the newly-filed complaint, Adore Me claims that since its launch in 2011 when founder Morgan Hermand-Waiche was still a student at Harvard Business School, it has made “widespread, continuous and exclusive use of the ADORE ME mark to identify its goods and services” – namely, its sale of a selection of garments and accessories plus “[r]etail and online retail store services in the fields of clothing, footwear, headwear, bags, purses, luggage and other accessories.” At the same time, Adore Me argues that it has used its ADORE ME word mark to indicate to consumers that the Adore Me brand is the source of its “distinctive, high-quality products and high-quality online retail store services services.”

As a result of such use, the New York-based brand – which reportedly grew revenues from $15.5 million in 2014 to $104.7 million in 2017 – contends that it “enjoys valid and subsisting federal and state common law rights in the ADORE ME mark.” 

Against that background and in furtherance of what it characterizes as a “willful” attempt by Savage to “appropriate” and piggyback on the “substantial consumer goodwill” that it has built by way of the “significant resources [it has devoted] to developing distinctive, high-quality products” and a reputation for setting “a standard for fashionable clothing and customer service,” Adore Me claims that Savage – which Grammy-winner, and fashion and beauty entrepreneur Rihanna founded alongside TechStyle Fashion Group in 2018 – has taken to “advertising its own goods and services” using the phrase “ADORE US,” which it argues is “confusingly similar to ADORE ME.”

To make matters worse, Adore Me – which markets itself as providing consumers with “Designer Lingerie For Every Body” – claims that Savage is amplifying such allegedly infringing use of the ADORE US mark by “prominently displaying [the phrase] in sponsored ads on search engines, such as Google” in order to promote its own offerings. However, “Contrary to what such advertising suggests, Savage’s clothing products and retail services are not authorized by, sponsored by, or affiliated with Adore Me,” the company asserts.

Specifically, “Savage purchases keywords identical to the ADORE ME mark and uses them to serve misleading advertisements in search engine results,” Adore Me alleges, claiming further that “in a Google advertisement for its products, the ADORE US Mark appears prominently among results for Adore Me and its products and services.” As a result, when a customer searches for Adore Me’s products, “The search results return Savage’s prominent use of the ADORE US mark in connection with a link to Savage’s website, thus, falsely indicating that clicking on that link will take the consumer to a site with products offered by, authorized by, or affiliated with Adore Me.” 

Savage’s use of ADORE US on similar goods and services, and its method of advertising is likely to be “misleading to ordinary consumers who are likely to believe that they are purchasing Adore Me’s goods from an online retail source authorized by Adore Me,” according to Adore Me, which claims that it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Savage on June 4 and a subsequent follow-up communication on June 8. While Adore Me alleges that it did not receive a response on either occasion, it claims that it “appear[ed] that [the] infringing advertisements were removed on or about June 8.” The alleged relief was temporary, though, as Adore Me contends that it “learned this week that [the ads] were again in use” by Savage.

With the foregoing in mind, Adore Me alleges that it has “suffer[ed] substantial damage and ongoing and irreparable harm” and sets out federal and state law claims of trademark infringement and unfair competition against Savage. The company is seeking unspecified monetary damages, including “a disgorgement of [Savage’s] profits in an amount to be determined at trial,” and injunctive relief to “enjoin the defendant from using the ADORE US mark in conjunction with its goods and online retail services and otherwise infringing Adore Me’s mark.”

A representative for TechStyle was not immediately available for comment.

The case is AdoreMe, Inc. v. LAVENDER LINGERIE, LLC, dba SAVAGE X FENTY, 2:21-cv-05144 (C.D.Cal.).