Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan in naming legal battle

Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan will face off in the Federal Court against an accessories chain over the use of its name.


Dinnigan, who is behind one of the Australia’s most luxurious labels for women, is taking action against Colette Accessories, claiming its similar name will “deceive” her customers.


Colette Accessories was set up last year by Manly woman Colette Hayman, selling bags, jewellery and scarves for under $50.


Dinnigan said in her statement of claim that she has “developed a substantial reputation and goodwill in Australia in respect of the quality and style associated with [her] branded women’s fashion garments and accessories”.


“The word ‘Collette’ or the words ‘Collette Dinnigan’, when used in connection with women’s fashion garments and accessories, have at all material times been understood by consumers in Australia as exclusively and distinctively indicating and being associated with Ms Dinnigan,” the claim said.


“[Dinnigan’s label] will suffer damage to their reputation … from consumers mistakenly thinking they are purchasing genuine Collette Dinnigan products when they are actually purchasing [Colette Accessories] goods.”


It’s understood Dinnigan’s lawyers contacted Colette Accessories in May last year and demanded it stop trading under its name and logo, but the business refused.


Dinnigan is reportedly seeking damages or payment equal to the profits of Colette Accessories, but Hayman’s lawyers argue Colette Dinnigan has “not developed any reputation at all in relation to accessories”.


Erminio Putignano, managing director of FutureBrand Australia, says the name ‘Colette’ is a common name and Collette Dinnigan doesn’t have ownership of it.


“In a way, if you’re saying that what they’re using is just the first name of the designer – not even spelt the same way – and if they are not using any other reference to the brand, it’s hard to build that argument [that Colette Accessories is damaging the Collette Dinnigan brand],” he says.


“It may generate some damage. That said, we need also to take into account that Collette Dinnigan is in a premium position [in the market] and it has always been more of a niche designer.”


Putignano says because Colette Accessories is positioned in the market as a budget brand, he doesn’t believe it will deceive Collette Dinnigan customers.


“People that are really into Colette Dinnigan – I think that they are savvy enough and cashed-up enough to understand that there is a big difference there,” he says.


The matter returns to court later this month.


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