Stella McCartney Wins 'FUR FREE FUR' Fake Fur Trademark Battle With USPTO

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Call the case Stella McCartney vs the US Govt — and Stella won.

Stella McCartney is one of most most committed voices in the global sustainability moment. In a trademark case that was a bit esoteric for the USPTO, McCartney sought to trademark the concept ‘FUR FREE FUR’ and not a specific textile composition. Stella wanted a category of existing and future fabrics not even created to live under her proposed ‘FUR FREE FUR” trademark label.

For two years, the designer’s attorneys have communicated back and forth with US trademark officials, who refused to grant her the trademark, saying the three words do not identify the source of McCartney’s products in the same way as say, an “LV” logo on a bag identifies the Louis Vuitton brand. Stella refused to yield, arguing that carefully developing materials that “incorporate the look and feel of fur but without any animal cruelty,” and then applying the “Fur Free Fur” tags on products, complete with the same font at Stella McCartney’s main logo was 1) totally congruent with her brand imagery but also 2) a word puzzle that required customers to think deeply about the product.

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The first use of the word FUR “refers exclusively to animal fur,”  stating that the goods are “animal fur free.” In the second instance, “FUR refers to imitation fur.” 

Thus, “the two different meanings of the term ‘fur’ within [McCartney’s] single mark creates a logical paradox … suggesting that the goods are both fur-free and made of fur at the same time,” and thereby, not descriptive. Therefore, the three words are not merely descriptive and qualified for a trademark.

On appeal, two of the three judges agreed with Stella McCartney’s lawyers, and the very important trademark will be given to her. via The Fashion Law.