Singer Katy Perry tried to ‘choke’ Katie Perry’s fashion business in trademark battle, court said


American singer Katy Perry tried to “stifle” the fledgling business of an Australian fashion designer by using her “financial might” in a brewing brand battle, a Sydney court has heard.

Katie Jane Taylor has been selling clothes under her maiden name, Katie Perry, since November 2006 and registered a trademark in September 2008.

In a case heard in Federal Court, she alleges that the singer has infringed her trademark since at least 2013 by selling products bearing a trademark “substantially identical or falsely similar to” her own.

The singer, real name Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, then filed a cross-application to have Ms Taylor’s trademark canceled.

Hudson adopted the stage name Katy Perry, a combination of her own first name and her mother’s maiden name, in 2004.

Katy Perry sold designer clothes during her Australian concerts in 2014 and 2018.(PAA: Scott Barbour)

Attorney Christian Dimitriadis SC, for Ms Taylor, told the court today that the designer started her business “long before” she knew the singer, which meant she was the rightful owner of the brand.

He described Perry’s “blatant” violation of Ms Taylor’s rights and explained how she resisted “heavy threats” in 2009.

“Ms. Hudson and her advisers attempted to use their greater sophistication and financial might to stifle Ms. Taylor’s fledgling business,” he told the court.

But Ms Taylor “stood up for her rights,” Dimitriadis said.

She first discovered the singer in July 2008 when she heard the song I Kissed A Girl on the radio, heard the court, but had already started selling her products in Sydney markets.

The year before, she registered her business name and a domain name.

Letters from Perry’s attorneys in 2009 were “a major shock” to the creator.

The court heard Ms Taylor made the legal battle public that year, triggering an email from Perry’s manager stating that it had been “exaggerated.”

Mr Dimitriadis said Perry was not only a famous musician, but a “shrewd businessman who actively exercises control over his business empire”.

She sold Katy Perry branded clothing and related products during her Australian concerts in 2014 and 2018, as well as lines that appeared in Target and Myer.

Mr Dimitriadis referred to a 2009 email Perry sent to her manager telling him that she “wanted a message released” and “not to sweeten it or apologize”, also referring to to Ms. Taylor in “what we were submitting was clearly a very derogatory manner.”

In defense documents, Perry’s legal team denies infringing on the maker’s mark because she used her own name in good faith.

The singer has had “significant prior media publicity in Australia” from June 2008, according to the documents.

Matthew Darke SC, for Perry, told the court that the singer was using her name for entertainment purposes in Australia from November 2007.

It was a “completely natural and orthodox transition” for pop stars to start selling designer clothes, he said, which Perry started doing with an online store in September 2008.

This store was put into operation before Ms Taylor applied for registration of her trademark, Mr Darke said, by which time the singer had a “very solid reputation, including in Australia”.

He also dismissed claims of “heavy lifting” but said that to the extent that such conduct had occurred, it took place before Perry appreciated the nature of Ms Taylor’s business.

The cross-claim was purely defensive as the circumstances meant there was “no choice” but to seek the removal of the Katie Perry trademark, Mr Darke said.

Ms Taylor, whose case is funded by litigation funder LCM, is expected to testify tomorrow.

While Perry is unlikely to make an appearance, his manager Steven Jensen will be a witness.


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