The small, Darlington-based fashion boutique, House of Zana, has won a long trade mark battle against high-street giant Zara.
Business owner, Amber Kotrri sought to register the trademark House of Zana in December 2020, two years after she first launched the business. She then received a notice of opposition from Zara owner, Inditex, two months later over claims that the two brands were ‘conceptually identical and ‘confusingly similar’ for consumers.
The small business owner received correspondence from Zara’s legal team threatening legal action if she did not rename her business and remove all existing branding from clothing labels, social media accounts and the front of the physical shop. Ms Kotrri refused to comply with these terms, arguing that doing so would cause “irreparable damage” to her business, which she had put huge amounts of time and effort into building. In addition to this, she believed there was no risk of confusion between the two companies, identifying the key differences between them.
The origin of the name ‘House of Zana’ comes from the Albanian word for ‘fairy’. The tribunal judge accepted this argument, determining that there was ‘no cynical motive in the use of the name’, which had been inspired by Ms Kotrri’s cultural heritage. Even where an association were to be drawn due to the similarity of the two names, the judge determined that this mental link was unlikely to be anything more than fleeting.
Furthermore, Ms Kotrri identified the stark differences between the values and business models of both companies, with House of Zana focusing on sustainability, in-house design and supporting independent brands. The tribunal judge concluded that the differences between the marks were “sufficient to rule out the likelihood of direct confusion on the part of the average consumer,” and ruled that House of Zana was allowed to keep its name and branding.
Ms Kotrri’s success may serve as inspiration for many other small business owners to remain determined in trying to grow their business in the market, even when faced with opposition from huge multinational corporations.
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Written by Ellie Rose & Keeley Williams for ip21 Ltd