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July 10, 2008

Joseph Abboud Learns the Hard Way About Naming, Branding and Goodwill

JOSEPH~1.pngFamed designer Joseph Abboud is offering two new fall collections next month bearing the names Black/Brown 1826 and Jaz, a luxury menswear brand that is a clipping of the word "Jazz," originally suggested by his daughter.

The reason he doesn't have his own name on the label is because he's not allowed. He lost naming rights to his own name after selling his fashion company in 2000 for $65.5 million to JA Apparel Corp, which now owns "associated names, trademarks, etc., including Joseph Abboud, designed by Joseph Abboud, JOE, JA, and similar or derivative terms."

After the seven-year non-compete clause had expired, Abboud pushed to use his name "in an informational way" to indicate that he was the designer of Jaz. In fact, he wanted to have a tagline that said "a new composition by designer Joseph Abboud."

The courts have ruled that he cannot do this legally. He is only allowed to "be himself" and make media appearances as himself, but he cannot use his own name to promote goods and services.

That's harsh, but as the Likelihood of Confusion blog asks, "why did he think he was getting $65.5 million?"

abboud_logo.pngThis is the inherent danger in using a personal name as a trademark. When things go wrong, as they did for Mr. Abboud, you lose the rights to your name for your next venture.

But what is interesting here is the technicality around what the word name means legally. The court seems to have interpreted it stringently but fairly. The key clause in the contract states that Abboud agreed to sell "all of [his] right, title and interest in and to: ...names, trademarks, trade names... and the goodwill related thereto."

This really leaves little room for argument that $65.5 million deal stripped Abboud not only of his trademark, but use of his name and goodwill. Michael Lechter of the Start-Up Blog says that the lesson here is "if you (or your attorney) are careless in drafting the agreement, then you may lose the benefit of your reputation as well."

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Posted by William Lozito at July 10, 2008 10:13 AM
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» Tricky Joseph Abboud Naming and Branding Setting Trademark Law Precedents from Name Wire: The Product Naming Blog
Back in 2008 I wrote a blog about the ill fated Joseph Abboud name. When the famous designer sold his trademark to JA Apparel for $65.5 million, that company received all "associated names, trademarks, etc., including Joseph Abboud, designed by Joseph ... [Read More]

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» Tommy Hilfiger's $3.38 Billion Acquisition Biggest Deal Ever in Apparel Naming and Branding from Name Wire: The Product Naming Blog
The Tommy Hilfiger name has been acquired by the Philips Van Heusen Corporation (PVH) for $3.38 billion after the current owners failed to get it listed. Tommy Hilfiger may seem to be a true American brand but in fact two thirds of the company's busine... [Read More]

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