When life gives you Lennon, don't make lemonade04 October 2017
The creators of Polish lemonade brand, Mr Lemonade, were recently left with a sour taste in their mouths after Yoko Ono brought legal proceedings in the United Kingdom alleging that their "John Lemon" products had infringed upon the registered trade marks relating to her late husband, John Lennon.
It was reported that Ono's lawyers wrote to the parent company of the John Lemon products as well as its distributors across Europe, warning they would face costs of up to 5,000 euros (AUD $7,486) a day and 500 euros (AUD $749) for every trade mark-infringing bottle sold.
The legal action referred to a Facebook post made by John Lemon, which depicted a large mural of Lennon holding lemons next to the brand's logo as well as several other advertisements featuring a pair of round glasses and the phrase "let it be".
One of the lawyers acting for John Lemon alleged that the company had registered the John Lemon trade mark in 2014, two years before the John Lennon brand was registered, but opted for settlement rather than facing the risk of having the products banned altogether.
According to the settlement agreement, the company has agreed to change the product's name to "On Lemon" and must sell the remaining stock of the John Lemon products by the end of October 2017.
Cases like this highlight the need for businesses to think twice before using product names that allude to high-profile individuals. If you're considering a product name and aren't certain if it will infringe upon an existing trade mark, we recommend seeking professional legal advice.