Taylor Swift, also known as “Tay Tay” to us hip folk, was hit with a trademark infringement suit this week. Blue Sphere d/b/a as Lucky 13 Clothing has been selling apparel under the LUCKY 13 mark for more than 20 years. Blue Sphere claims that Tay Tay has caused confusion among the marketplace by selling clothing with the phrase “lucky 13” on her official website.
My first thought with these lawsuits is normally “are you real?” And it turns out, Lucky 13 is a real brand, with a website and everything! They also have a registration for the LUCKY 13 mark in connection with clothing.
According to Tay, the number 13 is a meaningful number for her specifically. She was born on December 13 and she is often seated in row number 13 (or row M, which is the 13th letter of the alphabet). Unfortunately for T, the “I really like it and it has personal meaning” defense is not specifically enumerated in the Lanham Act.
I reviewed her website, but didn’t see any clothing with “Lucky 13.” Perhaps the offending items have been removed. Because of this, I can’t tell whether the Big T was actually using the LUCKY 13 phrase as a trademark for her clothing, or whether she as merely using it as a decorative element. After all, my first thought after hearing about the lawsuit was “Lucky Brand Jeans is suing Taylor Swift?” As it turns out LUCKY brand jeans is in no way affiliated with LUCKY 13 brand apparel. On top of that, “lucky number 13” is a commonly known phrase. I’m not convinced that the Swift Machine’s use would truly constitute trademark infringement.
My favorite part about the dispute though is that the complaint also states that T Swift is “has been photographed with permanent or temporary tattoos and markets herself as liking fast cars and dangerous men who drive them inappropriately.” According to Blue Sphere, this is the same demographic that their clothing targets. While the similarity of channels of trade is an important aspect of evaluating a claim of trademark infringement, whether or not one “likes fast cars” normally is not a factor that affects the likelihood of confusion analysis. I haven’t seen it mentioned in a complaint before. Like, ever. Like, never, ever, ever.