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Madonna Sued over 'Material Girl' Clothing Line TM

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 23, 2010 4:04 PM

It's her material world, we are just living in it. Or is it? Lady Madonna has been sued for trademark infringement over the use of the name "Material Girl" in her clothing line designed with daughter Lourdes. The line went on sale at Macy's the first week in August and the suit dropped soon after. Plaintiff LA Triumph is suing the Material Mom for infringement, claiming they have been using the name for their own clothing line since at least 1997.

The Complaint, posted by RadarOnline, was filed on August 19 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles County. In its suit, plaintiff LA Triumph alleges it succeeded the company who registered the trademark of "Material Girl" in California in 1997 and sold a clothing line under that name to major retailers like Nordstrom. The two clothing lines are similarly priced and aimed at the same juniors market. Whether the clothes themselves are actually similar, is not necessarily relevant for a trademark infringement suit.

The suit acknowledges that Madonna's line has applied for a federal trademark, but claims it was incorrectly done. A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from others. As is a basic tenant of most trademark suits, the plaintiff contends the buying public (a bunch of tweens) will likely be confused by the origin of the two lines because of the similarity of the name and other characteristics of the brand such as price point, buying audience and even the type of retailers who carry and promote the lines. LA Triumph seeks sole rights to the mark and any profits earned from the defendant's line.

It is unusual that Madonna, arguably one of the most astute business women in music, failed to file for a trademark on the name ages ago. Although the name came from the now ancient (in pop music years) hit "Material Girl" whose copyright is likely owned by someone other than the singer, who did not write the song, it would have been a smart move to attempt to nail down intellectual property rights in something so synonymous with her name. Since the birth of her children, Madonna is often called the "Material Mom" by the press, something she supposedly hates, but cannot seem to get away from.

Discussing her line with Britain's Daily Star, Madonna reportedly said, "I hate that name but I do love clothes and fashion and I love beautiful things."

At this time, no response from the first Material Girl on the suit.

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