Taylor Swift has created some Bad Blood with Patrick Benot, and he’s not about to Shake It Off. Benot created a computer consulting business that he trademarked “SwiftLife” back in 2007, creating goods and services that help make life’s errands more efficient. But nine years later in 2016, Taylor Swift and Glu Games launched an App entitled “The Swift Life,” which is a one-stop shop for Swiftie fans.
Note: Taylor Swift has trademarked multiple iterations of the term “Swiftie.” There’s evidence of consumer confusion, causing Benot “endless grief” and hurting his business, claiming Everything Has Changed. Swift never asked for permission from Benot to use the trademark, and he is left wondering why she has to be so Mean.
Trademark Infringement and Apps
Apps are a huge business. Approximately 300 billion apps have been downloaded, primarily through Apple’s App Store and Google Play, and that count rises every second. With over 50,000 new apps created every month, there will undoubtedly be some overlap, and many companies are choosing not to officially trademark their names. The United States trademark law follows a First In Time, First In Right policy. Benot was clearly first in time. Will he prevail against Swift?
To win a trademark infringement suit against Taylor Swift, he will have to prove that he has a protectable ownership in the mark, and that his use of the mark is likely to cause consumer confusion. Though we could poke fun over whether Swifties are easily confused, lawyers will go back and forth over the issue, analyzing the seven factors likely to confuse:
Relatedness of Goods or Services
Similarity of Marks
Similarity in Appearance
Similarity in Sound
Similarity in Meaning
Likely to Deceive
Interestingly, this isn’t Taylor’s first Trademark rodeo. She has been on the “registering” side a “sick” amount of times, trademarking over 30 of her self-described famous sayings, including “party like it’s 1989” and “this sick beat.” She has also been sued for infringement before. In 2015, Lucky 13 clothing brand claimed she was selling t-shirts with her Instagram handle, @taylorswift13. The case settled just before going to trial for undisclosed terms. Other high profile infringement cases include:
If you feel your trademark has been violated, contact a local trademark attorney who can help you decide if you have a case, and how best to proceed.