Willa v. Wella

“This case involves a classic case of trademark bullying,” says Willagirl, LLC in its lawsuit against the Wella Corporation. Willagirl, a startup company created by Christy Prunier and named after her daughter Willa, markets a line of tween-oriented skin, bath, and haircare products under several Willa marks registered with the USPTO. The Wella Corporation, whose parent company is Procter & Gamble, says the Willa marks infringe its own Wella mark for hair products. ¬†Wella told Willa to stop using the marks. Willa refused and then sued Wella in the Southern District of New York, seeking a declaratory judgment that its marks are non-infringing. There have been a good number of disputes in the past involving corporations and parents who name a new enterprise or a product after their children. This case is unusual because it involves a preemptive strike against a disgruntled goliath. The¬†docket sheet for the case, which is assigned to Judge Jed Rakoff, shows that motions for summary judgment are pending. It seems very likely that a settlement is in the works because trademark litigation will be very expensive, and risky, for both sides. Stay tuned.

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