Fierce Fragrance Fight: A&F sues Beyonce

Are all the good fragrance names taken? 

Last month, it was Ali Hewson's company, Nude Brands Ltd., suing Stella McCartney in an attempt to block the release of "Stella Nude" by L'Oreal.  (Injunction denied, but the trademark infringement case is pending in British court.  Not to be rude to Nude, but did you think it through before you sued?  The fragrances Nude by Bill Blass and Bijan Nude have been around for years.)

Now WWD reports that Abercrombie & Fitch is defending its "Fierce" men's cologne against Beyonce's forthcoming fragrance by Coty.  While the recent announcement of the planned launch didn't name the scent -- presumably because of the trademark dispute -- Beyonce last week filed an intent-to-use trademark application for "Sasha Fierce," the name of her alter ego.  The complaint, with exhibits, is here

Whose abs are fiercer, A&F's or Beyonce's?

Fragrance fights are especially fierce because under most countries' laws (including the U.K.and U.S.), only the scents' trademarks and trade dress have protection, while the "juice" has none.  Thus the marketing relies heavily on name and image, rather than the actual product.  While it's unlikely that "Stella Nude" smells much like the scents of the "Nude" skincare line or that a "Sasha Fierce" fragrance would mimic the "Fierce" citrus scent that A&F not only bottles and sells but sprays throughout its retail outlets with the intent of having all garments leave the store with the scent attached to them, the names alone are key to the products' value.  If similar brand names are likely to cause confusion, the concern is that consumers may sniff no further. 

After all, what exactly is a fierce scent?  Whatever it may be, expect it to be wafting from a courtroom any time now.