Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The "Caviar Manicure": Capturing a Trend as a Trademark

Buzzfeed reports that UK-based company Ciaté is laying a somewhat controversial stake to the terms "CAVIAR MANICURE" and "CAVIAR NAILS," as used in connection with a unique (if not slightly bizarre) form of nail polish and lip gloss adornment.

According to the company's website, "the inspiration behind the Caviar Manicure™ came about when Charlotte, Ciaté’s Creative Director, was looking to create 3-dimensional nails for a front cover magazine shoot and wanted to develop something feminine, indulgent yet delicately extravagant."

Ciate's products are currently offered for sale at Sephora and on Amazon.

According to BuzzFeed, Ciaté has apparently been sending out cease and desist letters to bloggers who were reporting how to create a "do-it-yourself" form of the nail look and calling it the "caviar manicure" without authorization from Ciaté.

The correspondence reportedly demands that bloggers cease using the term in connection with do-it-yourself forms of nail adornment, unless they are specifically using Ciaté products:  

"Brand Agency Limited (Ciaté) owns the trade marks caviar manicure and caviar nails and we are in the process of applying to register these marks around the world. Therefore you should not use the trade marks caviar manicure and/or caviar nails unless they are used in relation to products or to a method of using products that are produced by Ciaté."

However, the legal correspondence has not gone over so well with nail polish aficionados, who have begun calling the trend "fish egg manicure" in a form of mockery.

However, the twist here is that the bloggers and do-it-yourselfers are using a term ("caviar manicure") to which Ciaté is now staking an exclusive legal claim.

In the U.S. Trademark Office, Ciaté applied for a federally registered trademark in April 2012 based on priority of use claimed from its UK-application, which is dated March 13, 2012.

If a blogger or any other third party had previously used this term in commerce, that person could possess a superior right to Ciaté under the doctrine of priority.  In the United States, the first person or company to use a distinctive mark in commerce typically possesses the seniormost claim to right as against later comers.

There are reports in the blogosphere that third parties may possess evidence of prior use. However, do-it-yourselfers and bloggers may not possess any trademark rights vis-a-vis Ciaté, unless their use was made in commerce.

Ciaté may therefore now attempt to lay stake to the brand to the extent it can stop a significant level of unauthorized usage in the marketplace and become uniquely associated with the trend.

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