US pop sensation Katy Perry has lost a long-running legal battle after her company was found to have infringed the trademark of a Sydney-based designer.
Sydney woman Katie Jane Taylor, a self-described “Aussie battler”, sued the I Kissed A Girl singer in the Federal Court over the sale of clothes — including t-shirts and pyjamas — in Australia, claiming trademark infringement.
Ms Taylor, a mother of two, has operated a clothing label under her birth name Katie Perry since 2006 and held the trademark in Australia for over a decade.
However, the Sydney designer sued the singer – whose real name is Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson – claiming she infringed her trademark by using one that was “substantially identical to, or deceptively similar”.
Ms Taylor claimed the singer was using the trademark in Australia since at least 2013, selling products not only at her concerts, but also at shops such as Myer and Target.
During the trial, the court was told Ms Taylor had been designing closed in Australia for 15 years, a feat which barrister Christian Dimitriadis SC said “wasn’t easy”.
He told the court the designer began her business in 2006, “well before” she knew who the singer was, and before she first heard Perry’s song on the radio in 2008.
The court heard Ms Taylor had received “heavy handed threats of litigation” in 2009 in the form of cease and desist letters.
Ms Taylor first began designing clothes in November 2007 when they were launched at a school charity event, then sold them at Sydney markets in May 2008. She had already registered her business and domain name “Katie Perry” in 2007.
In 2009 Ms Taylor went public with the legal battle in the form of a video message to the superstar on YouTube.
This prompted an email from Perry’s manager, Steven Jensen, to say the situation was “blown way out of proportion”.
Justice Brigitte Markovic released her judgment following the lengthy trademark dispute on Thursday, saying it was a “tale of two women, two teenage dreams and one name”.
The Federal Court justice ruled Ms Taylor had partially won her claims and dismissed a counterclaim by Perry and her company, Killer Queen LLC.
Trademark infringements were found to have occurred by Perry herself in social media posts promoting her Prismatic Tour in 2013 and 2014.
But the judge found the singer did not owe compensation to the Sydney designer as the trademark was used “in good faith”.
Further infringements were found to have occurred during the singer’s 2014 and 2015 Prismatic Tour of Australia, at pop-up merchandise stores in Sydney and Melbourne.
Justice Markovic also found the trademark was infringed on a website for merch company Bravado.
Kitty Purry, a company owned by Perry, is liable for the particular infringements.
Ms Taylor claimed infringements occurred eight times after 2013, through clothes sold at Myer, Target and Cotton On, but Justice Markovic found these claims failed.
Justice Markovic also rejected claims Ms Taylor’s trademark was infringed through clothes sold on Amazon and eBay, and ahead of Perry’s Witness Tour in 2018.
Ms Taylor took to Facebook following the decision saying she “won the biggest battle” in her career, describing it as a “David and Goliath” case.
“I resisted an attack on me and the trademark, we established infringement and the cross-claim was dismissed,” Ms Taylor wrote.
“You may remember that in 2009 there was an attempt to shut me down by the US singer. It failed and the opposition to my trade mark was withdrawn.”
Ms Taylor said Perry then continued to “disregard” her trademark and was “surprised” when she received the cease and desist letter.
She described herself as a “real Aussie battler” working hard to establish her brand and withstanding a “brutal” cross-examination during the hearing in 2021.
“A true case of David vs Goliath! I felt bullied, insulted and surprised,” she wrote.
Ms Taylor said while not only dealing with legal proceedings, she has also been brutally bullied over the publicity from the case.
“I have had to bear hearing disparaging comments be made about me as I sat in court with tears in my eyes,” she said.
“I have been told I am naive and an opportunist – but they are simply traits of entrepreneurs trying to get a start up business off the ground.”
Justice Markovic will determine the price of damages owed by Kitty Purry at a later date.