Legal Beat: Katy Perry Loses Trademark Infringement Case

Can’t someone use their own name to sell merchandise? The answer is: not always.

Pop star Katy Perry has lost a trademark infringement case to an Australian fashion designer with the same name, but spelled “Katie Perry.” Katie Perry sells clothes under her birth name, but uses her married name, Katie Taylor. Taylor sued Katy Perry claiming the pop star sold merchandise which infringed Taylor’s trademark. 

In April of 2023, Australian Justice Brigitte Markovic agreed with Katie Taylor, ruling that clothing sold on Katy Perry’s 2014 Australian tour violated Taylor’s trademark.

The judge ruled that Katy Perry (born Katheryn Hudson) used the Katie Perry name in “good faith,” so she did not owe any money to the designer. However, the pop star’s company will have to pay monetary damages, which will be determined in the near future.

The fashion designer began to sell clothes using her brand name Katie Perry in 2007, and registered an Australian trademark in 2009.  The singer had her first hit record in 2008. The magistrate held that she infringed the fashion designer’s trademark by selling a jacket promoting her album Roar, as well as “Cozy Little Christmas” hoodies, scarves, sweatpants and T-shirts on her Australian tour and on social media.

In 2008, Katy Perry was signed to the EMI record label. They sent Katie Taylor a cease-and-desist letter in 2009 demanding that she stop use of the “similar name” in association with her clothing label. “Imagine my surprise when one of the reactions I received was a letter from lawyers representing the U.S. singer, Katy Perry,” Taylor said on her website after the judge ruled on the case. “They stated that I should immediately stop trading under this name, withdraw all my clothes and sign a document drafted by them to say that from then on I will never trade under that name ever again.”

The cease-and-desist letter did not work. “While the singer eventually gave up trying to prevent my Australian trademark from being registered, once registered, she chose to simply disregard it,” Taylor remarked. “Singer Katy Perry clothing was sold to Australian customers during Katy Perry performance tours over here, and through retail channels, including via websites. The singer has continued to ignore my trademark and one of her companies continues to sell infringing goods unlawfully in Australia.”

Katy Perry’s attempt to cancel the Australian’s trademark was rejected by the Magistrate.

The designer compared the litigation to a “David and Goliath” confrontation.

“Over the past few years, including whilst battling it out in court, I have been bullied and trolled. My friends and family have been trolled,” Taylor stated on her website. “Not only have I fought for myself, but I fought for small businesses in this country, many of them started by women, who can find themselves up against overseas entities who have much more financial power than we do.”