Now global fashion goliath Zara is taking on and crushing a one mum business.
Four-year-old preschooler, Zara Tilbrook, has sparked a legal nightmare for her mum Shelley - or at least her name has.
Two years ago 'mumpreneur' Shelley named her online children's gift store Zara and Lily after her daughter and her niece, never guessing the name could be confused with the Spanish clothing retailer.More stories from Today Tonight
"We received a letter and it was from the international clothing giant Zara, that we had infringed on their trademark," Shelley said.
"In the words of their lawyer they suggested that we change our name very quickly before they unleashed the dogs."
Zara's Australian lawyer slammed Shelley's choice of business name, claiming it is "substantially similar or deceptively similar" to its client's and demanded she cancel her business name, and the domain name ZaraandLily.com.
When it comes to business, a famous name like Zara is valuable intellectual property according to trademark lawyer Sharon Givoni.
"Ultimately the law in Australia is all about preventing consumer confusion," Givoni said.
"In the fashion industry, where the fashions are so changing all the time, that's really all they have," she added.
In a statement Zara's PR team said "Zara Australia wants to underline its high respect for Ms. Tilbrook's initiative and has tried to demonstrate this throughout the process. We cannot forget that Zara originated from a small family business in apparel manufacturing and, as a result, the brand is empathetic to all entrepreneurs."
Intimidated by the financial muscle of the Zara mega-corp Shelly has stopped trading and is now left with $50,000 worth of stock in her garage she can't sell under the Zara and Lily name - not to mention two years of goodwill, a website, a logo and a small business that was just starting to turn a profit.
"Well it really does mean starting again and trying to build up that name again. For an online store Google ratings are everything, so we'll be starting from scratch," she said.
"It is a bit of a race to the trademarks office - it's first come, first served," lawyer Givoni explained.
And that is where Shelley slipped up. While she registered the business name Zara and Lily, she didn't register a trademark. Multinational Zara didn't begin trading in Australia until last year, but has long held the trademark. While Shelley considers her business name is quite different, she's not prepared to fight to keep it.
Shelley has opted to chalk up her Zara experience as an expensive lesson - as it is she'll lose up to $15,000 in rebranding and web costs. "For a small business that's a fair bit of money for us," she said.
Shelley is hoping for better luck with her new name - Peach and Pear Kids.Contact details
- Just some days ago, Zara became aware of an online store named Zara and Lily which was also using the trade mark ZARA + LILY. As a matter of respect for customers, and in order to avoid any brand confusion, Zara Australia contacted Ms. Shelley Tilbrook, owner of this online store, to highlight the possible misleading information caused by the name. Ms. Tilbrook immediately agreed to take all measures to solve the confusion by changing the business name. Zara Australia adopted a cooperative approach to assist Ms. Tilbrook's transition to her new name, Peach + Pear Kids, and believe that the ambiguity has been solved in a fair way for both parties.
- We have always dealt with Ms. Tilbrook in a professional and amicable manner and provided her with a number of links to government departments to assist her in registering her new business name, an alternative domain name and also provided her with information concerning availability and possible registration of alternative brands as trademarks of the new business name. The aim has been to resolve the issue amicably and to help her business to move forward in a positive fashion.
- Zara Australia wants to underline its high respect for Ms. Tilbrook's initiative and has tried to demonstrate this throughout the process. We cannot forget that Zara originated from a small family business in apparel manufacturing and, as a result, the brand is empathetic to all entrepreneurs.
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