Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mixed Chicks Win Big Against Sally Beauty Supply for Trade Dress Infringement (Fashion law includes hair and beauty products as well)

Who says that a small company cannot protect its rights against a bigger one? Surely not Mixed Chicks (MC). MC is a company that sells hair products for the naturally curly haired woman.  Like every great hair product, many salons and beauty supply stores wanted a piece of the hair line including Sally Beauty Supply Company (Sally). However the two retail shops never came to an agreement.  So when MC found out that Sally was selling a very similar product named Mixed Silk, in a similar bottle and packaging, including color and print, it sued them for trademark and trade dress infringement.  Check out the pictures below.  Even worse, is that Sally used MC’s webpage search engine to direct consumers to its Milk Silk products.  

After MC requested that a California court order Sally to discontinue the sale of its product and take down its logo on their website, the jury not only answered in the affirmative but awarded MC $8.5 million dollars. That’s a huge win against a multi-billion dollar company like Sally.

Counter Culture Beauty Blog reports a response from Kim Etheredge, co-founder of MC. Etheredge. She tells Essence.com:

 We’ve worked hard to build the reputation of the Mixed Chicks product as one of high quality. We want our clients to know that the Mixed Silk products have no connection with our products, and Mixed Chicks has not endorsed or authorized them.

This instance is a bit shocking for Sally because not only do they sell great name brands but they also sell inexpensive store brand products that can be likened to the name brands they sell. The Sally store brands are named “Generic Value Products” (GVP) and are all packaged in black and white design. Also, the products even tell the customer which hair product to compare it to right on the bottle.  Check out the package design of a Sally GVP version of the more expensive brand below-Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo. 

At least this way, Sally is playing it safe with the GVP products. So why did they not do the same with Mixed Silk? They probably could have avoided having to pay out $8.5 Million dollars. 

Fashion Legallaire's take: I love that fashion law includes health and beauty products. Even though it is a small niche, it is a window of many issues and includes various products. 


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