Even Douches Deserve Trademark Protection

This post is painful to write.  It involves tattoos.  I like tattoos.  I even wrote my final law school paper on the intellectual property issues surrounding tattoos.  It’s not painful to write this because of the pain of being tattooed, rather, it’s painful to write because it involves such a touchy subject in the tattoo world:  Don Ed Hardy.  He is a legend, and his Japanese-style tattoos are instantly recognizable.  So why is this incredible artist a touchy subject in the tattoo world?

This:

Image from hardlycool.com

And this:

Jon Gosselin

And this:

Fashionistas?

You see, Ed Hardy clothing has become the “uniform of the douche.”  Fair or not, that’s what has happened.  I won’t get into the psychology of it all, but you can find plenty of analysis online.  A simple Google search for “ed hardy douche” will point you in the right direction.  Here, I’ve done it for you.

I’m sure Mr. Hardy had no idea that a simple licensing agreement designed to bring in some extra cash would turn into this, but if you want some $140 jeans with “Ed Hardy” on the ass, proceed to the checkout.  Thank you, Christian Audigier (who may be the ultimate douche in all of this).

Given my respect for Hardy and my keen awareness of what has happened to the brand, I wasn’t really surprised when I saw this new complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

  • The case is Hardy Way, LLC v. A.J. Nails, Inc. and Johnny P. Tran.  Complaint HERE.

I have to admit that when I saw “A.J. Nails” as a defendant, I figured the case might involve some awesome airbrushed fingernail allegations.  I was wrong.  This is actually a fairly typical complaint concerning counterfeit goods – specifically, bogus Ed Hardy clothing.

Trying Too Hard

The complaint spends half of its 12 pages praising Hardy’s talent, and Hardy Way’s marketing skill.  It’s actually a very nice wiki-esque explanation of how the licensing deal came about.  We are even treated to a list of goods that bear the Ed Hardy trademarks, including, but not limited to, shoes, hats, jewelry, beverages, home goods, skateboards, snowboards, mobile digital content, fragrances, tanning products (ed: biting tongue), toys, and, drumroll please…. limited edition Smart Cars, which, tellingly, come autographed by Christian Audigier, not Ed Hardy.

I predict that Don Ed Hardy clothing will be in the clearance bins soon – these ultra-trendy brands all share the same fate.  Von Dutch, FUBU, Ed Hardy – the rich and famous wear them for awhile and then the (orchestrated) coolness wanes while the next $140 pair of jeans is being stitched up overseas.

Anyway, until that time, enjoy Don Ed Hardy’s enforcement of its brand via this new lawsuit.

(Note:  no matter how “douchetastic” a brand may have become, the owner of the mark still has a duty to police its mark and prevent infringement and dilution of that mark.  In that regard, if the allegations in this complaint are true, then Hardy Way deserves the remedies it seeks.)

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