Beyoncé Poised to Settle Trademark Dispute

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

BeyoncePop Queen Beyoncé (whose full name is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter) and her company seem prepared to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit they brought against a Texas company selling “Feyoncé” merchandise, according to Forbes.

At the end of September, a federal judge denied Beyoncé’s motion for a permanent injunction against the Texas company.

Fiancé/Feyoncé

The “Feyoncé” brand name (which sounds like “fiancé”) was intended to be marketed to those engaged to be married.

In the judge’s opinion, she noted that the “defendants chose the formation “FEYONCÉ” in order to capitalize off of the exceedingly famous BEYONCÉ mark.”

However, noted the court, that alone doesn’t establish the likelihood that consumers would confuse the Feyoncé mark with the singer’s trademark:

Rather, a critical question is whether a rational consumer would mistakenly believe FEYONCE products are sponsored by or affiliated with BEYONCE products. A rational jury might or might not conclude that the pun here is sufficient to dispel any confusion among the purchasing public.

Beyoncé owns a trademark for her name, registered in 2004. The trademark registration includes Class 25: “Clothing: namely – shirts, sweaters, blouses, jackets, slacks, hats and caps.”

Products are sold on her website: shop.beyonceshop.com.

Put a Ring on It

The defendants sell clothes and other apparel with the “Feyoncé” mark and phrases from Beyoncé’s songs, such as “put a ring on it.”

When the defendants tried to register the “Feyoncé” mark, the US Patent Office refused it for several reasons – including that it was confusingly similar to the Beyoncé mark.

Defendants continued to sell clothing with the mark.

Beyoncé’s lawyer sent them a cease-and-desist letter. When the defendants didn’t respond, Beyoncé and her company filed suit, asserting causes of action for:

  • Federal Trademark Infringement
  • Federal Unfair Competition
  • Federal Trademark Dilution
  • Deceptive Acts and Practices, in violation of New York Law
  • Trademark Dilution, in violation of New Law
  • common law unfair competition
  • unjust enrichment

Trademark Infringement

As the judge noted, to prove trademark infringement, a plaintiff must meet a two-part test:

  • the plaintiff must show that its mark is entitled to protection; and
  • the plaintiff must show that “defendant’s use of the mark is likely to cause consumers confusion as to the origin or sponsorship of the defendant’s goods.”

The certificate of trademark registration is evidence that the mark meets the first part of the test.

Also, when a registered mark has been in continuous use for five consecutive years following the registration, the right to that mark is considered “incontestable” (with some exceptions).

Likelihood of confusion is a question of fact, focused on the probable reactions of people who might buy each party’s products.

Play on Words

The judge noted that

By replacing the “B” with an “F,” Defendants have created a mark that sounds like “fiancé,” i.e., a person who is engaged to be married. As a result, FEYONCE is a play on words, which could dispel consumer confusion that might otherwise arise due to its facial similarity to the BEYONCE mark.

The judge concluded that

a reasonable jury may conclude that consumers looking for BEYONCE products are unlikely to select a FEYONCE product inadvertently.


Photo Credit: By Rocbeyonce [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption