As the world of fashion often seeks inspiration from current events and pop culture, it’s no surprise that sometimes, these inspirations may land a brand in hot water. Such is the case for Singaporean clothing store Hashtag65, which recently received a legal letter from local bookstore, Popular, over a t-shirt design that strayed too close to home.
This tussle was birthed out of an unfortunate incident during a parliamentary sitting. The then-Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan-Jin, was heard uttering an expletive and branding Workers’ Party MP, Jamus Lim, a “populist.” Tan’s comments, picked up by the microphone, led to an apology for his “unparliamentary language.” The incident soon went viral, with meme sites and social media users poking fun at the situation.
Spotting an opportunity, Hashtag65, a clothing store, launched a red t-shirt with the word ‘populist’ emblazoned on it. However, it was the design that stirred the hornet’s nest. The t-shirt’s design bore a striking resemblance to the logo of Popular bookstore, sparking a legal confrontation.
Standing their ground, Popular swiftly issued a legal letter to Hashtag65, underscoring their staunch commitment to protect their intellectual property rights, including their registered trademarks, copyright works, and their substantial goodwill cultivated over years. As stated in the letter, “it has come to our client’s attention that T-shirts infringing our client’s rights are being sold on the Hashtag65 website.”
Popular’s solicitors argued that the controversial t-shirts could cause the bookstore “serious commercial harm” by creating a false perception of endorsement. They expressed their client’s concern over the potentially damaging infringement of its rights, especially since the ‘populist’ t-shirt used the same typeface and a similar logo to Popular’s registered logo.
Responding to the legal request, Hashtag65 clarified in a Facebook post that it had no affiliation with Popular bookstore. They announced they would halt the sales of the contentious t-shirts “very soon,” as per the request. The brand’s post added a note of lament, wishing people had a “better sense of humor” about such incidents.
Source: Marketing Interactive.