Singer Katy Perry tried to ‘snuff out’ Katie Perry fashion business in trademark battle, court told – ABC News


American singer Katy Perry attempted to “snuff out” the budding business of an Australian fashion designer using her “financial might” during a brewing trademark battle, a Sydney court has heard. 

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

In a case being heard before the Federal Court, she alleges the singer infringed her trademark from at least 2013 by selling products with a mark “substantially identical to, or deceptively similar to” her own.

The singer, whose real name is Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, subsequently launched a cross claim to have Ms Taylor’s trademark cancelled.

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

Katy Perry, surrounded by giant cricket bats with effeminate faces, sings on the MCG.
Katy Perry sold branded clothing during her Australian concerts in 2014 and 2018.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Barrister Christian Dimitriadis SC, for Ms Taylor, told the court the designer began her business “well before” she was aware of the singer, which meant she was the rightful owner of the trademark.

He described Perry’s “flagrant” infringement of Ms Taylor’s rights and outlined how she had resisted “heavy-handed threats” back in 2009.

“Ms Hudson and her advisors attempted to use their greater sophistication and financial might to snuff out Ms Taylor’s nascent business,” he told the court.

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

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

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

Letters from Perry’s lawyers in 2009 came as “a significant shock” to the designer.

The court heard Ms Taylor went public with the legal battle that year, sparking an email from Perry’s manager stating it had been “blown way out of proportion”.

Mr Dimitriadis said Perry was not only a famous musician but a “savvy businessperson who actively exerts control over her business empire”.

She sold Katy Perry-branded clothing and related goods during her Australian concerts in 2014 and 2018, along with lines which appeared in Target and Myer.

Mr Dimitriadis referred to a 2009 email Perry sent to her manager advising him she “wanted a message put out” and “not to soften it up or apologise”, also referring to Ms Taylor in “what we would submit was plainly a very derogatory way”.

In defence documents, Perry’s legal team denies infringing the designer’s trademark because she used her own name in good faith.

The singer had “substantial prior media publicity in Australia” from about June 2008, the documents say.

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

It was an “entirely natural and orthodox transition” for pop stars to begin selling branded clothing, he said, which Perry began doing with an online store in September 2008.

That store went live before Ms Taylor applied to register her trademark, Mr Darke said, by which point the singer had a “very substantial reputation, including in Australia”.

He also rejected the assertions of “heavy handedness” but said to the extent conduct of that kind occurred, it took place before Perry appreciated the nature of Ms Taylor’s business.

The cross claim was purely defensive because the circumstances meant there was “no choice” but to request removal of the Katie Perry mark, Mr Darke said.

Ms Taylor, whose case is funded by litigation funder LCM, is expected to give evidence on Tuesday.

While Perry is not expected to make an appearance, her manager Steven Jensen will be a witness.