Beyoncé has voluntarily dropped her lawsuit against Feyonce Inc., a Texas company that was selling unauthorized Beyoncé-related merchandise under its company label, targeting engaged couples. The mega star's lawsuit, filed in 2016, had listed claims such as willfully engaging in trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution, among others, seeking unspecified damages. It is unclear whether a settlement was reached, or if the lawsuit was just dropped.
Beyoncé Claims Brazen Copying
Feyonce clothes and merchandise can be purchased in various online retail outlets, including Amazon, Etsy, and Redbubble. The lawsuit claimed the infringement was "brazen," and it's hard to disagree with that depiction. The company manufactures t-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing and merchandise items with adulterated lines from Beyoncé's songs, such as "He Liked It So He Put A Ring On It" and "We Be All Night." Some simply say "FEYONCÉ."
According to the lawsuit plaintiffs had filed, "Defendants adopted the Feyoncé mark to call to mind Beyoncé and her famous song," the lawsuit states. "Defendants' conduct described herein is intentional, fraudulent, malicious, willful and wanton." The suit also alleges that one defendant, Andre Maurice, tried to trademark "Feyoncé" twice, both with and without the accent over the "e." Prior to filing the lawsuit, Beyoncé had also tried to scare Etsy out of selling this merchandise by issuing the online retail outlet a cease and desist order in January 2015, but that attempt proved fruitless.
Judge Claims Brazen Copying Isn't Necessarily Confusing Consumers
In October 2018, Beyoncé petitioned the federal court for a permanent injunction to stop the sale of Feyonce merchandise, but lost. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan reasoned that Feyonce's choice to capitalize off the "exceedingly famous" Beyoncé trademark would not necessarily result in consumer confusion, which is a necessary element of trademark infringement. "A rational jury might or might not conclude that the pun here is sufficient to dispel any confusion among the purchasing public," the judge wrote. Nathan then ordered both sides to discuss possible settlements and court dates. Perhaps dropping the lawsuit was a result of those court ordered discussions.
If you feel your trademarks are being infringed upon, contact a local trademark attorney. A legal expert can best discuss the legal nuances of trademark law and help you decide if you have a case and how best to proceed.