Adore Us v Adore Me
According to a BBC article, Rihanna is now part of the Billionaire’s club! The musician turned fashion entrepreneur is reportedly worth $1.7 billion – the majority of that coming from her fashion brand Fenty Beauty, with the rest coming from Savage x Fenty and her music.
Rihanna’s journey to the top hasn’t been smooth. Her fashion brands have come up against a few IP claims along the way. The most recent being Adore Us v Adore Me.
In June 2021, lingerie retailer Adore Me Inc (“Adore Me”) accused Savage x Fenty (“Savage”) of trade mark infringement in the US. They claimed that the use of Adore Us by Savage, caused customers searching for Adore Me to arrive at Savage’s website instead of their own.
Adore Me was launched in 2011, an online lingerie company which sells products to “make sure everyone is included”. Savage was founded in 2018 and their marketing material highlights that lingerie is for all body types. It is clear from the outset that both companies have a very similar ethos and are already fighting for attention in the same space.
On top of this, Adore Me also has two US registrations for two US marks, namely TM number 4182189 in class 25 and TM number 6019184 ADORE ME in classes 18, 25 and 35.
In June, Adore Me sent a cease and desist letter to Savage notifying them of their infringement. They received no response to this letter, or a subsequent chaser letter. However, they did find that Savage removed the infringing mark from their website – only to find it had reappeared later. Adore Me therefore initiated infringement proceedings in the US.
The infringement document filed by Adore Me states that “Savage’s acts are wilful, with the deliberate intent to trade on the goodwill of the ADORE ME Mark, cause confusion and deception in the marketplace, and divert customers of Adore Me’s services to Savage”. They note that Savage has been advertising its own products “by prominently displaying the mark [ADORE US] in sponsored ads on search engines, such as Google, for its own line of lingerie” which they argue suggests a link between Adore Me and Savage. Evidence filed shows a screenshot of a Google search for ADORE ME, with a sponsored ad for ADORE US amongst the results.
It is obvious that these marks are extremely similar. The difference between “Me” and “Us” is arguably not enough for the average consumer to understand that the two marks are from different companies. The products are identical, being lingerie and the principles behind the brands (i.e. body positivity and inclusivity) are also very similar. This means that the target consumer is going to be the same. ADORE is the dominant part of both of marks and it is clear that the different gender-neutral pronouns ‘me’ and ‘us’ will not render the marks different overall. Taking this into account, on the face of it, Savage’s use of ADORE US does appear to be too close to ADORE ME’s earlier rights and we can see how consumers would be confused or assume a connection between them.
Even though terms like “adore” are frequently used within lingerie marketing to give the impression of desire and romance, our view is that these brand names are too close for comfort. It also seems likely that Savage would (or should) have been aware of this party’s earlier rights and use since a basic Google search would have picked it up. Perhaps they took the view that a smaller party wouldn’t have the appetite to contest Savage’s use or perhaps they thought that substituting ‘ME’ for ‘US’ would create enough difference between the brands to avoid conflict.
From a quick search, it seems that Savage has stopped using ADORE US. With the amount of media attention this case received, this isn’t surprising. Media scrutiny is one of the unwanted perks of being a billionaire. We believe this is a victory for Adore Me. It goes to show, that even if the infringing party is high profile with significant financial backing, if you own the earlier IP rights you can still prevail.