On Britney Spears and Trademarks

On Britney Spears and Trademarks

April 1, 2015

Singer Britney Spears recently moved the Tel Aviv District Court for an injunction against an Israeli trader, allegedly importing fake perfumes bearing the “Britney Spears” brand, a brand registered in Israel as a trademark, all in infringement of the trademark and her intellectual property rights. In that certain case the packaging and the unique shape of the bottle of fake perfume were almost identical to the packaging and original perfume bottle. Without the registration of the trademark it would have been more difficult for them to protect the brand.

Registerable types of trademarks under the Israeli trademarks legislation include letters, numbers, words, images, shapes, sounds or combinations of such. For example, one can register a trademark on the name "Britney Spears", as well as on the unique shape of the perfume bottle and on the logo or the color depicted on the packaging of the products. Trademark registration is limited to a particular type of use and therefore, if a business operates in several areas, one may be required to register several trademarks.

The procedure for registration of a trademark may be long but at the end the trademark owner (or the holder of an exclusive license) will have the exclusive right to use the trademark for the goods or services for which it is was registered, to enable the owner to build a reputation and differentiate itself from its competitors with the prevention of the competitors from using the registered mark.  A trademark is valid for ten years and may be renewed for further periods of ten years each, subject to payment of a fee.

Israeli law provides another benefit to an owner of a registered trade mark - the ability to claim an amount of up to ILS 100,000 for any infringement of the mark (e.g., illegal use or copying) without requirement to prove damage.  In some cases Israeli law allows one to file claim also for infringement of a non-registered trademark under unjust enrichment or commercial torts theories but in such a case proof of damage will be required, a task that may prove to be between difficult to impossible.

Thus, an owner of a unique sign, name or combination of names, or a logo that became associated with the owner's business, supplied services or product, so that whomever sees a similar product may be confused and think that this is a product that belongs to such owner, it is advisable not to wait and contact a lawyer that is knowledgeable in the intellectual property (and specifically) trademarks field in order to promptly register the trademark.  Without due registration it will be more difficult in the future to protect from use of competitors of what has become part of the business reputation.