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High Court to hear Victoria's Secret trademark case

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court Justices agreed Monday to settle a trademark fight over whether the huge Victoria's Secret chain is damaged by a small firm named Victor's Little Secret.

Both companies sell provocative lingerie, among other items, and Victor's Little Secret additionally sells adults-only novelties.

Victor Moseley of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, opened a single store under the name Victor's Secret, which he later changed to Victor's Little Secret, but the larger retail chain says that name remains too close to its name and has sought trademark protection against Moseley.

Such conflict falls under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act, passed by Congress seven years ago to help protect businesses with established trademarks from newcomers who may try to trade off the famous name. Victoria's Secret Catalogue Inc. has held a trademark on its name for 20 years.

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Lower courts, however, have differed over whether firms with famous names have to prove actual injury.

In this case, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Victoria's Secret, saying shoppers in the Kentucky community who hear the name Victor's Little Secret are likely to think of the famous chain, and the small store's racy product lines could harm the image of the larger firm, known for catalogs and store mannequins featuring busty models in push-up bras.

Moseley appealed the ruling to the high court, which has now agreed to sift through the case during its next term, which begins in October.



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