August 17, 2006
Product Naming: 'The Body' Slam: Elle vs. Heidi
There was a great article in the LA Times about who gets to refer to herself and her products as “The Body”, Elle Macpherson or Heidi Klum.
Klum is now touting “The Body” bra, and claiming “they call me the body, and now I have a bra named after me.” Macpherson begs to differ, claiming she is actually “The Body” and sells a line of products under "The Body” brand name.
Her publicist claims that “in terms of the public record” Elle is the real body. Yes, but in terms of legal protection of a generic term like “The Body”, it is doubtful either model - no matter how attractive their bodies indeed are - will win.
As the writer of the piece correctly points out, Jesse Ventura (former WWF wrestler) has called himself “The Body” since both Macpherson and Klum were prepubescents and a generic term like “The Body” is almost impossible to protect in court, especially since it seems clear neither woman has tried to gain a registered trademark for it for probably the very same reason.
I think the key here is that the generic word must genuinely refer to the product offering. This issue comes up in the naming business often. Both Klum and MacPherson can legitimately argue that they have “bodies” that are attractive to buyers.
Also, neither model is attempting to infringe upon the other’s “body” - Klum is not trying to pretend that her body is just like Elle’s (perish the thought.)
This means that neither Jesse Ventura nor even L'Oreal (owner of “The Body Shop”) are likely to be able to defend their use of the ”Body” unless of course Klum went into wrestling or MacPherson’s cosmetics were sold as environmentally friendly products similar to, or the same as, The Body Shop.
In this case, each woman is referring, legitimately, to their own bodies as selling points for the products, something anyone with a body could do without being sued by MacPherson or Klum.
I’m reminded of that old Hollywood saying, “Any publicity is good publicity.”
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Tracked on November 18, 2006 3:28 AM