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Victoria's Secret Accused of Some Serious Hanky Panky

By Erika Maurice

Hanky Panky Ltd. (Hanky Panky), a small New York-based underwear company, has accused the lingerie goliath Victoria's Secret and its parent company, Limited Brands, Inc. (Victoria's Secret), of trademark infringement. In its complaint filed on October 31, 2013 in the Southern District of New York, Hanky Panky states that Victoria's Secret inappropriately used the name "After Midnight" to launch a new collection of products consisting of an "aphrodisiac" candle, massage oil, perfume product and room spray, which are virtually identical to Hanky Panky's "After Midnight" line of sensual products. Hanky Panky, a company that rose to fame by selling its 4811 lacy thong panty to the likes of Cindy Crawford, claims that it registered the "After Midnight" mark in 2012 and has since invested substantial time and money into the mark which has evolved secondary meaning. "To make matters worse" the complaint continues, Victoria's Secret has also used Hanky Panky's advertising slogan, "Release Your Inner Flirt" in connection with the sale of its new sleepwear, which, according to Hanky Panky, "betrays a studied and deliberate misappropriation of [its] valuable intellectual property." Hanky Panky claims that it has been using the "Indulge" slogan since 2003 and later registered the mark in 2007.

Hanky Panky alleges that Victoria's Secret's misappropriation of its marks has caused harm to its reputation and will lead the public into believing that the two companies are affiliated. Additionally, Hanky Panky stated that, due to Victoria's Secret's relatively larger size and marketing power, Victoria's Secret's use of the marks could lead to reverse confusion and somehow mislead the consuming public into believing that Hanky Panky is infringing on Victoria's Secret's brand. Hanky Panky further claims economic damages, asserting that Victoria's Secret alleged misappropriation prevents it from capitalizing on the time and expense invested in the "After Midnight" and "Indulge" marks, which has thwarted its "economic opportunities", and caused loss of sales and profits. The complaint continues to list two counts of trademark infringement for the misappropriation of both the "After Midnight" and "Indulge" marks, as well as additional counts for false designation of origin and common law unfair competition. In addition to money damages, which includes the cost of corrective advertising to mitigate any consumer confusion, Hanky Panky is seeking an injunction and has also asked the court that all infringing material be handed over to Hanky Panky for destruction. Victoria's Secret has yet to make a public comment or respond to the allegations in the complaint.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 21, 2013 11:06 AM.

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