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Company name disputes that resulted in lawsuits and rebrands

You’ve given your brand a unique moniker, only to receive an official legal letter from a big business that’s taken offence. It’s a nightmare entrepreneurs dread, but company name disputes are seemingly inevitable.
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(3) ASOS

In September 2016, just a month after Tinder ensured 3nder was no more, ASOS admitted defeat in a clothing clash.

The online fashion retailer had been embroiled in company name disputes for six years, facing off a dual attack from Swiss cycling clothing business Assos and German menswear retailer Anson’s Herrenhaus.

Global trademark debates had been taking place in the US, UK and Germany, with numerous cases held in court over ASOS’ sale of sportswear.

Company name disputes ASOS

The payout was dubbed the “right commercial decision for our business”

The 1976-launched Swiss firm had been trying to get 2000-founded ASOS to change its name in the UK, but lost the battle in 2015.

However, the final outcome meant that ASOS was forced to pay a £20.2m settlement, but that will allow its fashion range to include own branded sportswear – though that excludes cycling clothing, which remains the realm of Assos.

“We are pleased to have put this litigation behind us. Entering into this settlement at this juncture is the right commercial decision for our business,” said Nick Beighton, ASOS CEO.

(4) Instagram

Perhaps company name disputes weren’t something on Instagram’s radar as a startup, but after being acquired by Facebook in 2012, it had an infinite amount of legal power behind it.

As such, it clamped down on third party apps including Insta and Gram in the names in 2013, insisting it was harmful for the brand.

Company name disputes Instagram

According to TechCrunch, one such app called Luxogram received the following email, which read: “We appreciate your interest in developing products that help people share with Instagram. While we encourage developers to build great apps with Instagram, we cannot allow other applications to look like they might be official Instagram applications or endorsed or sponsored by us.

“As we hope you can appreciate, protection of its well-known trademarks is very important to Instagram. For example, it has always been against our guidelines to use a name that sounds or looks like “Instagram” or copies the look and feel of our application.

“Similarly, as we have clarified in the new guidelines, use of “INSTA” and “GRAM” for an application that works with Instagram is harmful to the Instagram brand. It is important that you develop your own distinctive branding for your applications, and use Instagram’s trademarks only as specifically authorized under our policies.”

A search of Luxogram and the service appears to be no more, with the website declaring the service is still in beta and the last post sent from its Twitter account in August 2013, suggesting the company name disputes saga was the kiss of death.

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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