Victoria’s Secret Loses Trademark Battle Over “Pink” Brand

A judge’s stern reminder: underwear is not outerwear

Victoria’s Secret Loses Trademark Battle Over “Pink” Brand
[Image: Victoria's Secret Pink and lingerie via Shutterstock]

Over in London, Pink button-downs are in and Pink bras are out, thanks to a court ruling that Victoria’s Secret’s Pink brand of lingerie infringes on U.K and European trademarks held by premium shirtmaker Thomas Pink.


“Consumers are likely to enter one of the claimant’s shops looking for lingerie and be surprised and disappointed when they find they have made a mistake,” judge Colin Birss wrote in his ruling. The decision does not affect Victoria’s Secret U.S. operations, but will hamper the company’s growing presence in the U.K.

Victoria’s Secret launched Pink as a sub-brand of bras, panties, and sleepwear in 2004. From the start, the line was a sales “standout” with the added benefit of bringing teenagers and college students in the door. Pink “has brought vitality, youth, energy, and an all-new customer base to Victoria’s Secret,” L Brands Inc. chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner wrote in a 2009 letter to shareholders. And Pink apparently has staying power: L Brands does not break out sales figures within Victoria’s Secret, but filings consistently name Pink as a primary contributor to increased store sales.

Victoria’s Secret operates seven U.K. stores, six of which carry Pink items. In the U.S., there are more than 1,000 Victoria’s Secret stores.

“We are delighted with the outcome of this case, and will continue to protect the considerable investment that has been made into building Thomas Pink into a leading luxury clothing brand,” Thomas Pink CEO Jonathan Heilbron said in a statement. The company had trademarked its logo, and not the word “Pink,” but Birss ruled that the Thomas Pink brand name had “acquired distinctiveness” in opposition to the “sexy, mass-market appeal” of Victoria’s Secret.

Founded in 1984, Thomas Pink is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Group and operates 100 stores. Its London flagship on Jermyn Street is half a mile from Victoria’s Secret’s flagship on New Bond Street.

L Brands did not return calls requesting comment.

[H/T Women’s Wear Daily]

About the author

Staff writer Ainsley (O'Connell) Harris covers the business of technology with a focus on financial services and education. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.