A trademark application from ‘haute couture’ fashion house Chanel was recently refused on the grounds that their fragrance, Jersey
, misleads customers to believe that the product is made on the Channel Island of the same name.
The fashion powerhouse released their Jersey in 2011, but had difficulty securing a trademark for the name after the island’s government said that Chanel should not be able to own the name Jersey.
“This was about ownership of the name Jersey,” said Jersey senator Alan Maclean to the Guardian. “It is not about stopping Chanel using the name.”
Chanel maintains that the fragrance is named for the fabric that founder Coco Chanel popularised in the fashion world in 1916. From a branding perspective, it’s not difficult to see why the fashion house would choose the name, as jersey is often used to create chic clothing that is comfortable and easy. Coco herself is quoted as saying: “By creating jersey clothing, I was liberating the body and moving away from fitted waist garments.”
However, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office, the name Jersey with a capital J should be kept for goods made on the island for “public interest” reasons. In other words, keeping the name Jersey available for the island’s artisans allows consumers to buy Jersey goods and allows the makers to display the geographic origins of their goods without fear of legal proceedings.
A Jersey representative from the hearing said that though the island’s government objects to the use of the single word “Jersey” as a trademark, they will not try to stop Chanel from using the name on their fragrances. The association of the island’s name with a high fashion brand may even benefit the island, some say.
This is not the first time that a company has tried to trademark a name or phrase that belongs to the world at large, or that Intellectual Property Offices have had to strike down these trademark applications in the name of “public interest.” Just weeks ago, Disney made moves to trademark “Dia de los Muertos,”
also known as Day of the Dead, after starting production on a film about the popular Mexican holiday. In this case, no ruling was needed: Disney withdrew their applications after an online petition against the trademark gathered over 21,000 signatures in less than a day.