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Sephora caught up in trademark lawsuit

By Deanna Utroske

08-Nov-2016
Last updated on 08-Nov-2016 at 16:32 GMT2016-11-08T16:32:51Z

Drunk Elephant products on display at Sephora
Drunk Elephant products on display at Sephora

The beauty retailer has been named in a suit this month after neither the company nor the brand Drunk Elephant, which the store carries, removed the mark in question despite receiving notice earlier this year. 

Green Heart Labs filed a claim in US District Court for the Southern District of California on Friday 4 November. Julie Pefferman, the sales and marketing director at that personal care company, holds a trademark on the product name ‘Aha! Moment,’ according to an item on worldipreview.com (a site that reports on intellectual property topics).

And therein lies the problem

Green Heart Labs sells a body peel featuring alpha hydroxyl acid and aloe that’s meant for all-over “smoothing/clearing/anti-aging/retexturing,” according to the label on the bottle. This skin care product is called ‘Aha! Moment’.

In the suit, Green Heart Labs asserts that the Drunk Elephant brand, which is in stores and on line at Sephora, uses the same expression on its product. “Defendants prominently place the infringing mark as the largest text on the front, the side, and the back panels of the infringing product,” notes the company filing.

Green Heart Labs believes that Drunk Elephant’s use of its trademarked ‘Aha! Moment’ product name and Sephora’s sale of it confuses consumers regarding which brand the product is from and “that the wrongful conduct has caused injury to its business, goodwill, and property,” as worldipreview.com reports.

The company is seeking a trial by jury and damages in the case.

Out of sight

Sephora is named in the filing for ostensibly not removing the mark from its stores. Though a quick search of the Sephora site and a visit to the store’s Upper West Side location (2164 Broadway) in New York City on Monday turned up no such ‘Aha! Moment’ product in the Drunk Elephant section.

And even Green Heart Labs continues to feature their signature anti-acne lotion on their splash page, rather than the ‘Aha! Moment’ peel. The company is best known for its ‘butt acne clearing lotion’ and has virtually monopolized the hashtag #buttacne online.

Whether consumers actually confuse Green Heart Labs products and those from Drunk Elephant is yet to be determined by the court.

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