This month Hard Candy cosmetics, a Florida company, filed a suit claiming that the heart on Katy Perry’s line is a trademark infringement. P&G will contest the suit. “The heart icon is a common, universally understood symbol that is often used in texting and social media,” P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose tells the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Hard Candy was founded in 1995 and embellishes its brand name with a heart logo (between or above the words Hard Candy) on its cosmetics packaging.
Some color cosmetics in the Katy Perry Cover Girl line include a heart on the packaging as well, at times it’s between Katy Perry and Cover Girl.
Hard Candy alleges that this is an instance of trademark infringement. Accordingly, “the suit filed in federal court in Florida claims P&G began using the heart icon with the Perry line this spring ‘in an improper attempt to confuse consumers and to feed off (Hard Candy’s) success’,” as the Cincinnati Business Courier reports.
Damages and demands
The Hard Candy suit is reportedly asking for a lot: all of P&G’s profits from the sales of Katy Perry Cover Girl products, punitive damages, and fees.
“The Hollywood, Fla.-based firm also requested that the amount of damages be tripled as permitted in such cases,” according to the Courier, “and that P&G not be allowed to continue advertising or selling any products that use words or symbols that resemble Hard Candy’s design marks.”
Apples to oranges?
Both the Katy Perry collection and Hard Candy products are sold as Walmart. For Hard Candy, the retailer is the brand’s primary in-store distribution channel. Hard Candy cosmetics are also available through the company’s own ecommerce site.
Cover Girl is a much more widely available brand, sold across the States at any number of mass market retailers. And the two competing companies have a similar consumer base.
As in all infringement cases between competitive brands with similar products, the case will be decided in large part on whether an average consumer would confuse the two brands based on the trademarked icon in question—a job that now rests with Judge Frederico Moreno of the US District Court for Southern Florida.