Target vs Target: Battle of the Brands

Courtesy of TargetThere is an ongoing brand battle between the large American retailer Target and Canadian retailer Target Apparel over the Canadian rights to the TARGET trade-mark.  This is one of those disputes that is becoming more well-known than the brands themselves. Of the first dozen hits in a Google search for “Target Apparel”, 10 of them are related to the lawsuit rather than the actual products. In the case of Target Brands Inc. v. Fairweather Ltd. the US retailer applied to a Canadian court to block all use of the TARGET APPAREL brand in Canada pending the outcome of the lawsuit. In a recent decision in Canadian Federal Court, the court refused to grant the interim injuction against the Canadian retailer, saying the US company failed to prove that it will suffer “irreparable harm” if the Canadian company continues to use the TARGET APPAREL mark.  So the Canadian company will continue to use the mark while the matter goes to trial… or is settled.

One interesting element that came out of this decision was Target’s practice of licensing the little guys. Possibly in preparation for litigation, the US retailer went around to other small Canadian retailers who were using “Target” as part of their business name. Some of these users were confronted by Target and entered into license agreements where they acknowledged Target’s ownership of the TARGET mark, and were given a licence to continue using the name. This applied, for example, to Target Food Stores & Gas Ltd., which operates two small convenience stores now licensed by Target Brands Inc.  While this wasn’t conclusive in the injunction application, the court noted that Target’s practice of licensing small businesses using the TARGET mark did undercut its argument that it was harmed by the perception that Target Apparel stores were somehow linked with Target.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

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  1. Richard Stobbe February 6th, 2012 2:28 pm

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