Monday, 1 December 2008

New look, no mark

Weymouth (UK) based fashion house New Look has made quite a name for itself, but it's not an easy name to keep to itself. Last week the Court of First Instance dismissed its appeal against the failure of its application to register the words NEW LOOK for a whole raft of fashion items and accessories as well as a store name for its retail trade. Said the court, the words were
"a banal expression which is part of everyday English and does not present any linguistic difficulty. That expression will thus be understood to mean ‘new appearance’ by a public who are native English speakers, but also by people with a basic knowledge of English as such a level of knowledge is sufficient, in the present case, to understand the sign applied for".
What's more, New Look couldn't show that its name had become distinctive of its business throughout the territory of the European Union, the trading zone that the Community trade mark covers. This decision only covers the words NEW LOOK: it doesn't affect the eye-catching logo at the top of this post.

Fashionista says, choosing the right name for a label is a tough call. Names that send out a strong and attractive message are often those easiest to market, but their very strength as a message to shoppers is a weakness because messages like "new look" are kept free for all traders to use.