Excite Worldwide Sued by Pop Star For Attempting to Trademark “Lady Gaga”

By Joseph Mandour on October 1, 2011

makeup Orange County – Lady Gaga, one of the world’s largest pop stars, filed suit in New York State court against Nevada based cosmetics and accessories company, Excite Worldwide, over the rights to her infamous stage name, Lady Gaga. The lawsuit is in response to attempts by Excite Worldwide to register several trademarks with the USPTO including LADY GAGA and LADY GAGA LG for cosmetic and apparel products such as makeup and jewelry.

Plaintiffs Lady Gaga, suing under her legal name, Stefani Germanotta and her business entity Ate My Heart, Inc., allege that they already own the registered trademark LADY GAGA (No. 3,960,468) for online chat rooms, poster and paper items, musical recordings, and a website. LADY GAGA is also a registered trademark (No. 3,695,129) owned by Gaga and Ate My Heart, Inc. for apparel items. The complaint further alleges that Lady Gaga and Ate My Heart have already filed trademark applications for the LADY GAGA and LADY GAGA FAME trademarks for various cosmetics and accessories.

In order to register the trademarks, Excite Worldwide will have to show priority, use in commerce, and distinctiveness. While the LADY GAGA trademark is likely distinctive, Excite Worldwide may have a difficult time demonstrating that it was the first entity to use the LADY GAGA trademark in commerce. Stefani Germanotta, on the other hand, has been using the stage name Lady Gaga since about 2006. Inspired by the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga,” Germanotta and Rob Fusari created the name Lady Gaga, which Gaga has been performing under that name since that time.

The individual applications filed by Lady Gaga and Excite Worldwide for the trademark LADY GAGA to be used in conjunction with cosmetics and accessories seem to be in direct conflict. The USPTO’s decision regarding the applications will likely hinge on priority, or which entity began using the LADY GAGA mark first. It is unclear whether Excite Worldwide has already been using the LADY GAGA trademark in commerce.

Meanwhile, the New York State action depends on whether plaintiffs can show that use of the LADY GAGA trademark amounts to a false designation of origin likely to cause customer confusion. In the state complaint, plaintiffs request a permanent injunction barring defendant Excite Worldwide from using the name in commerce and from prosecuting the trademark application before the USPTO. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

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