Monday, January 11, 2010
Help Me Howard: Chanel Prada
Do you own your name? Do you have the right to open a business and call it by your name? Good questions, one South Florida woman tried to use her name and an Italian company came after her and said she could not use it. Can she? Let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When I say Prada, many people think of purses, shoes, perfumes made by a famous Italian company.
Say Prada to Chanel and she thinks of her family.
Chanel Prada: "My married name is Prada and Chanel Prada is my name."
A famous first name.
Chanel Prada: "I like Chanel Number Five."
And a famous last name, even though she has no relation to Chanel or the Italian fashion company.
Chanel Prada: "I can't even afford the Prada label."
Chanel is a hardworking woman who owns a public relations firm called Chanel Prada Events, and to help her business grow, recently created a website.
Chanel Prada: "I bought the ChanelPrada.com domain."
She thought it was a great idea. The Prada people over in Italy did not.
Chanel Prada: "I received via email a letter from the Prada Organization in Italy that I cannot use the Prada name because they own it."
The email told Chanel, Prada is a trademarked name and by using it she was trying to take advantage of their worldwide notoriety.
Chanel Prada: "I was very surprised."
Chanel's argument: Who in South Florida is going to confuse her public relations firm with their fashion firm?
Chanel Prada: "I don't sell purses, sunglasses. There's no affiliation, association, there's no connection. It's a public relations agency."
Chanel is convinced she is not hurting the Italian designer company and can't believe she cannot use her own name for her own business.
Chanel Prada: "I would like to keep chanelprada.com my domain name and use it to build my business, which was already in place."
Well, Howard, can you use your own last name for your own business if someone else has already bought the rights to the name?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, you can use your name for your business as long as it doesn't confuse the public. In other words, Mrs. Prada is promoting a public relations firm using her full name. That's OK, but you get into trouble for example if you would try to sell purses and call them Prada purses because that would confuse the public and, legally, be a trademark violation."
We then tried to contact Prada in Italy through emails and faxes. When they didn't respond, Matthew Nelles who specializes in trademarks and copyrights agreed to meet with Chanel.
Matthew Nelles: "Big companies such as Prada frequently monitor their intellectual property. They make sure people are not out there trying to profit off their good name."
Nelles says it doesn't appear Chanel is breaking any laws and hopes that he can get Prada to see that.
Matthew Nelles: "We'll write a response letter probably to them or call them. There's negotiations that take place to try and resolve it without legal intervention."
In the meantime, Nelles told Chanel she could keep using her name to promote her PR firm because it clearly is a catchy name.
Chanel Prada: "When I contact potential sponsors and give them my name it becomes a conversation piece."
Patrick Fraser: "If you are thinking about opening a side business to make a little extra money and where to check to see if your name has been trademarked, and if you want to create your own web page, just type in your name.com to see if someone is already using it. My name has been claimed by a photographer, but I don't take good pictures or make good pictures, so I don't care."
A terrible situation become part of your domain? Decided it's unfashionable? Contact us, we don't have a trademark on solving things, but we are proud some of the things we accomplish.
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