Madonna’s right to ‘Material Girl’ in doubt

October 2011


A legal dispute over the use of the “Material Girl” trade mark  will proceed to court in the USA after a judge refused a request by Madonna’s legal representatives for summary judgment in her favour against   LA Triumph, who took legal action against Madonna after she launched a Material Girl fashion line last year. LA triumph argued that they had been making Material Girl clothing since 1997 and owned the registered trademark. Madonna’s representatives  asked a judge to dismiss the case  arguing that the singer had been associated with the term ‘Material Girl’ since the release of the song of the same name in 1985, and that her businesses had sold over £85 million worth of t-shirts and other products bearing the name over the years. However, Judge James Otero said there were some fundamental flaws in the arguments of Madonna’s lawyers, not least that the release of a track with a name does not constitute registering the name as a trademark, and that selling pop merchandise carrying a song’s title does not mean you are trading in the fashion industry using that title as a mark. The judge concluded that the “defendants’ argument that Madonna created the ‘Material Girl’ mark through her performances fails as a matter of law”. Unless settled, the matter will go to jury trial.

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