Target vs. Target: U.S. retailer faces legal battles over name in Canada
Last week’s triumphant announcement that the U.S. discount retail chain Target is indeed coming to Canada may be hitting a snag. As we reported in October, due to a trademark dispute with Canadian owned Target Apparel, the U.S. chain may be forced to change its name. Never heard of Target Apparel? Well, that’s exactly what Target Corp. is claiming: the U.S. chain filed a challenge with the Canadian trademark office in July 2010 asserting the Toronto owner of Target Apparel, Isaac Benitah—also head of Fairweather Ltd. and International Clothiers—has not used the Target name in the past three years.
The challenge seems simple enough—except this isn’t Target Corp.’s first run-in with Target Apparel. The U.S. mega-chain first challenged Benitah’s right to use the similar moniker in 2002 after he acquired the Target Apparel brand from Dylex Ltd. While the Canadian federal trademark office initially agreed with the U.S.-based Target, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in Benitah’s favour five years later. To complicate matters further, Benitah recently filed for $250 million in damages from Target Corp. or “profits unjustly gained” by using the Target name in Canada. In a similar move, Target Corp. recently sought a court injunction and more than $50,000 from Target Apparel, charging that its store name was “deliberately calculated to deceive and confuse the public in Canada.”
With the two Targets in a court battle over the same name, Target Apparel has been quietly opening stores in Sudbury, Ontario and Nanaimo, B.C. A shrewd move, considering Benitah has until the end of February to prove he’s used or had plans to use the Target name in the past three years.
Our (thoroughly non-professional) legal advice? Why not drop the whole legal battle and spell the store name the way everyone already pronounces it: Tar-jay.