SwiftLife and Taylor Swift reach a deal and end the legal battle about the litigious app “The Swift Life”
Written by Floriane Barre, an international intern on 03 May 2019« Return to Reading Room
In October 2017, Taylor Swift – the famous notorious singer – and Glu Games – a game development company – launched their app called “The Swift Life”. This mobile application allows the “Swifties” – Taylor Swift fans – to communicate and find more exclusive content about the singer’s life. That could be some pictures, videos or information about the celebrity preferences.
In July 2018, the American company “Swiftlife” owned by Patrick Lloyd Yves Bénot alleged that the mobile application infringed his trade mark. Swiftlife is registered as a trade mark since 2008 for computer software repairs, consulting services and the use of computer hardware and software systems. The trade mark is inspired by the store owner’s life because when he was younger, he needed a liver transplant. This personal experience shows him how the life can be swift.
At the same time, the company SwiftLife decided to fill a suit against Taylor Swift and Glu Games for trade mark infringement before the Federal Court in Brooklyn on the basis of trade mark dilution, use of counterfeit mark, unfair competition violation of Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act.
The defendants filed counterclaims to obtain the cancellation of Swiftlife trade mark. She argued that the Bénot company committed fraud by making a deceptive statement to the Trade Mark Office.
In January 2019, the judge on the case rejected the defendants’ counterclaims. Additionally, he allows the case to proceed despite the decision of Taylor Swift and Glu Games to shut the mobile application down.
Two days ago, both parties have dismissed their claim against each other before the US District Court of eastern District of New York.
What might be the issue before the court?
The case is now closed. But it could be interesting to look at the points raised by both parties about the case.
On the one hand, the plaintiff had good arguments. First, the US Trademark Law required, as proof of trademark infringement, a likelihood of confusion among consumers. TheSwiftlife company claimed that since October 2017 and the announcement by Taylor Swift of the app, the store has moved down the search engine results. Moreover, Mr. Bénot proved evidence of a number of app users who intending to interact with the app have instead contacted the retailer. The risk of confusion was real and give a great advantage to the plaintiff.
Secondly, the confusion must cause the defendant’s mark harms or is likely to harm to the plaintiff. On this, Swiftlife company demonstrated that its revenue was down compared to the previous year.
On the other hand, the defendants were also within rights. A trade mark – under both UK and US laws – is registered according to a specific type of goods or services. That means that trade mark infringement must be done by a company which markets the same or similar type of goods or services. In our case, it is evident that this prerequisite was not satisfied; as the matter of fact, Swiftlife company provide computer software repairs, consulting services and the use of computer hardware and software systems which completely differs from the app which is simply a tool for fans to better know their idol.
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