Aussie company loses battle with US brand

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    An Aboriginal-run clothing company has lost a two-year legal battle with US clothing brand Gap, forcing the Aussie business to change its name. Clothing the Gap is a small Aboriginal-owned business run in Melbourne that has been locked in a legal battle with US clothing giant Gap Inc since 2019 over the use of “gap” in the business’s name.

    Co-founder and managing director of the company, Gunditjmara woman Laura Thompson, received a cease-and-desist letter from Gap in April 2019, sparking a lengthy legal battle. The Aussie company lost the legal fight, meaning they will now be required to rebrand as Clothing the Gaps.

    The company said the name Clothing the Gap was used as a play on words to refer to closing the gap between Indigenous groups and other Australians. “We are rebranding after a two-year legal dispute with US clothing giant Gap. We used the word ‘Gap’ in our brand about ‘Close The Gap,’ an Australian health initiative focused on closing the gap between Australian and First Nation people,” the company said in a Facebook post.

    Aussie

    “We did put up a fight at the trademark tribunal in opposition, but the judge decided that there was ‘contextual confusion’ and ‘deceptive similarity has been established’.” The business must change its name by the end of July, meaning they only have a few months to sell all their stock bearing the current brand name.

    “We don’t have long to sell all of our OG range! At midnight on the 31st July, it ALL has to come off the shelves,” the company posted on their social media pages. “It’s sad to see it disappear, but we’re very excited about our rebrand!! “We can’t wait to show you our new designs with our new identity ‘Clothing The GAPS.’”

    Ms. Thompson told the ABC that she was surprised when she first received the cease and desist letter as no one in the company had made any link to Gap when registering the business. She said the legal battle took an “emotional toll” on the business operators.

    “In the background, we’ve had uncertainty around our brand for the last two years; we’ve been continuing to call ourselves Clothing The Gap, knowing very well that we’re going to have to rebrand at some stage,” Ms. Thompson told the publication.

    Ms. Thompson said she was grateful the company didn’t have to completely overhaul the brand, just adding an ‘S’ on the end of its name. She said doing this still allows the business to support and link to the Aboriginal community.

    “One of the areas that we focus on in closing the gap is that young Aboriginal people, Indigenous people are engaged in employment and education,” Ms. Thompson told the ABC. “We’re proud and that we’ve got a cohort of probably about 15 young Aboriginal people that are employed through our social enterprise and that were able to further engage a lot more of the Aboriginal community in the programs that we run.”

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