Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venus Envy: Rival Asked to Remove Misleading Label

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venus Envy: Rival Asked to Remove Misleading Label

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Barker-Benfield, Times-Union business writer

This is not the summer of love for Venus.

Summer of lawyers is more like it.

Consider the lawsuit perking along in federal court in Jacksonville

Venus Swimwear of Jacksonville is ticked off at Pacific Sunwear of California, which for the past four years has been selling shorts and similar items with a "Venus Girl Trap" label through its stores.

The problem , says Venus, is not the "Venus Girl Trap" label when it is used in its entirety.

Rather, says Venus, it is the way Pacific Sunwear makes it really, really hard to read the words "Girl Trap" but really, really easy to read the word "Venus."

In some cases, the name "Venus" is on the front side of the label, "Girl Trap" on the flip side.

The result, complained Daryle V. Scott, Venus' chief executive, in a petition to the court earlier this month, is that Pacific Sunwear is confusing customers who think they are buying the Venus Swimwear brand.

Customers like Mandee, who, according to court documents, e-mailed the company:

"Hello, my name is Mandee I am 13 years old."

Mandee wanted to know if Venus Swimwear products were connected to Venus Girl Trap.

Mandee also wanted some magazines. But maybe she meant catalogs.

" I think I subscribed anyway for free! Please, well thanks you a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then there was the customer who wanted a refund from Venus Swimwear for a pair of Pacific Sunwear's Venus Girl Trap shorts.

That did not go down well with Venus Swimwear.

Even retailers who should know better have been confused, wrote the company's attorney, David Otero, in a motion to the court.

And there is some real money involved here.

Venus Swimwear says it has spent $50 million advertising its Venus line, which it sells through 1,000 stores and to about 1 million direct mail customers. It has printed 80 million catalogs over the years.

The Venus line accounted for 98 percent of his company's $38 million in sales in its 2000 fiscal year, Scott told the court. …

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