By: Bolu Odubayo
On May 2, 2018, Burberry filed an $8 million-plus law suit against Target. Among its allegations against the retail giant, Burberry claims that despite being aware of Burberry’s exclusive trademark rights, Target has repeatedly infringed these rights by selling a variety of products that closely resemble and imitate the BURBERRY CHECK trademark. These products include eyewear, luggage, stainless steel bottles and scarves.
Burberry is a luxury brand that is recognized globally. It has a distinctive British heritage and a reputation of “design, innovation, and craftsmanship.” Thomas Burberry first opened a shop in 1856 in Basingstoke, England. He introduced the BURBERRY CHECK trademark in the 1920’s and used it on various products since that time. The BURBERRY CHECK trademark is not only registered in a “distinctive red, camel, black, and white check pattern,” but is also registered without any color designation, giving Burberry the exclusive right to use the BURBERRY CHECK in any color.
In December 2017, Burberry discovered that Target was marketing, selling, and scarves that featured copies of the BURBERRY CHECK trademark in different colors. Of course, these scarves were not manufactured or approved for sale by Burberry. Accordingly, Burberry sent Target a cease and desist regarding these sales and about other products such as luggage and eyeglass cases. However, Target continued to sell the products.
Burberry is alleges that Target’s conduct in selling these products is likely to cause confusion among consumers and lead them to mistakenly believe that the infringing products are either “affiliated with, endorsed or authorized by, or somehow connected to Burberry, or that the infringing products sold and promoted by Target are genuine Burberry products.”
Target is known to often collaborate with high-end designers which allows consumers to purchase such designs at a lower price. Because of Target’s well-publicized history of collaborating with popular and high-end designers and sell limited-edition collections, this heightens the risk of customer confusion when Target sells its Burberry-esque products.