If you’ve been on Instagram the past year or just somewhere fashionable, I’m sure you’ve seen the super cute CHANEL perfume bottle-inspired phone case. Well, online retailer, Shop Jeen, who sells the trendy phone case, has just been slapped with a lawsuit by CHANEL because of those phone cases.
In the complaint, CHANEL claims that Shop Jeen has used CHANEL’s registered trademarks without the consent of the fashion house and is claiming trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, false designation of origin, and trademark dilution.
This all basically means that CHANEL never licensed the use of CHANEL’s well-known name and logo to Shop Jeen for use on the phone cases that they sell through their website.
CHANEL states in the complaint that Shop Jeen has infringed their trademarks purposefully because the retailer “had full knowledge of Chanel’s ownership of the Chanel Marks, including its exclusive right to use and license such intellectual property,” and that Shop Jeen had no right and knew it had no right to use these marks. CHANEL is claiming that the use of the CHANEL name and logo amounted to willful infringement, which can lead to greater damages.
CHANEL also states in its claim that the cell phone cases are “of a quality substantially different quality” than the Parisian fashion house’s goods, and that the retailer is actively advertising these products which confuse consumers “who will believe the [phone cases] are genuine goods originating from and approved by Chanel.”
CHANEL’s main concern is that consumers will believe that these phone cases are in fact CHANEL phone cases and that because they are of a lower quality than CHANEL goods, they will devalue the brand.
It seems that CHANEL has a pretty solid case here because the retailer is using CHANEL’s name and logo without the consent of the fashion house, thus it is attempting to benefit of the reputation of luxury and high fashion that the brand is known for. And, while the average consumer will probably know that the phone cases are not actually CHANEL, since the only CHANEL products that are sold around the $20-$30 range is makeup, the need to protect the use of its logo and name is of utmost importance.
A luxury brand’s ability to maintain its status of luxury is partially dependent on brand identity, meaning what the brand’s reputation is. When someone thinks of CHANEL, they’ll think of luxury, high fashion, expensive pieces and just overall elegance and chic-ness. But, if there are products in the marketplace that could potentially cheapen its brand identity and CHANEL doesn’t combat these products, it could ultimately affect CHANEL’s ability to maintain its luxury status.
I will admit that I personally think that the phone cases are very cute and have thought about buying one, but the lawyer in me is very well aware of how incredibly infringing these phone cases are. So, alas, I have refrained from purchasing one. And, it seems I may no longer be able to if I so wished, as Shop Jeen has removed the phone cases from their website.
CHANEL has asked for a permanent injunction preventing the retailer from manufacturing, advertising, or selling any products that bear the CHANEL marks without CHANEL’s consent, as well as $2 million in damages. Stay tuned!!