Shirt maker wins ‘PINK’ trade mark dispute

Posted: 20th August 2014

Shirt & tieHigh end Jermyn Street shirt maker Thomas Pink Limited has triumphed in a High Court trade mark dispute with 'sexy, mass market' retailers Victoria's Secret over the use of the word 'PINK' on the latter’s goods and shop fronts.

Thomas Pink had cornered a lucrative part of the market in gentlemen's shirts since it opened in London in 1984. It turned over nearly £30 million but was dwarfed by the giant American retailer. Trouble brewed when Victoria’s Secret opened a store in Bond Street in 2012 and called it PINK. The shop was targeted at 'college girls', aged between 18 and 25, and other branches had since opened.

Upholding Thomas Pink’s infringement of trade mark claim, the Court found that the shirt maker was entitled not to have its reputation damaged by association in the public mind with ‘sexy sells’ Victoria’s Secret. Although the American retailer’s business was legitimate, and ‘tarnishment’ was too strong a word, its trade had nevertheless been associated with some public controversy.

There were examples of Victoria's Secret having to withdraw products after public complaints and its business aimed to have a sexy, mass market appeal. That contrasted with Thomas Pink's 'English gentleman' image. The American retailer’s use of the ‘PINK’ logo on its goods and shop fronts was also likely to cause confusion on the part of average consumers, the Court found.