29 April 2022TrademarksAlex Baldwin

Zara says independent ‘House of Zana’ should rebrand

Spanish fashion retailer Zara has threatened Darlington, England, independent boutique “House of Zana” with legal action if it does not change its “conceptually identical” branding.

The shop’s owner Amber Kotrri, received a notice of opposition from the fashion giant following her attempt to trademark her store name, the BBC reported.

Zara claims that the shop’s name was “confusingly similar” to the Zara name and “dilutes the distinctiveness and reputation of the Zara brand”.

Kotrri reportedly refused to rename her business following the legal threats. She said: "Our name is very meaningful and personal to us and poses no commercial threat to Zara, and their massive market”.

A hearing to decide whether Kotrri can keep the name is scheduled for next month.

Professional advice

Obtaining professional legal advice prior to selecting new branding is crucial for ensuring that smaller businesses do not run disputes with litiguous companies later down the line, acting as a form of “investment or insurance” to prevent the costs of a potential rebrand in the future, notes Robert Reading, head of content strategy for Clarivate’s IP group.

He added: “Online checks to identify potentially confusing existing brands are generally not comprehensive, and the results can be difficult to interpret for someone not familiar with trademark law.

“It should be remembered that the trademark filing process - while no more difficult than applying for a passport—requires an understanding of the way that trademarks interact with one another.”

The fashion industry is one of the leading sectors for trademark creation, copyright and industrial designs, and those in the industry should be aware of what protections they are entitled to.

“Anyone involved in this sector should have an awareness of IP so that they can protect their own products,” Reading added.

Branching out

Towards the end of last year, Zara attempted to extend its IP outside of the fashion industry to cover food and restaurant services.

A ruling handed down by the EU General Court ruled that Zara could not register trademarks to cover vegetables, juices, pasta, and restaurant services, bringing about the end to the 10 year dispute.

Its attempt to trademark “Zara” for these goods and services was opposed by Italian-based company Ffauf Italia SpA,  which owned several similar marks, including the figurative mark “Zara” and word marks for “Le Delizie Zara”.

The EUIPO claimed that there would be a likelihood of confusion between Zara’s trademarks and the existing marks under classes 29, 30, 35 and 43. The court confirmed that Zara could only protect its name in classes 31 and 32 for vegetables and fruit juices.

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More on this story

2 December 2021   Spanish retail giant Inditex, which owns the Zara brand, has failed to convince the EU General Court to extend its “Zara” trademark for food products and restaurant services.
24 January 2020   Fashion brand Amiri is suing Zara for $3 million at the US District Court for the Central District of California, accusing the retailer of “blatantly” copying the design of its skinny biker jeans.
26 August 2022   The high-profile case demonstrates the need for small businesses to undergo early trademark clearance searches, the Withers & Rogers attorney tells WIPR.