Independent fashion boutique wins tribunal against Zara over ‘identical brand’ claims

Darlington-based House of Zana (left) wins tribunal against retail giant Zara (House of Zana/Getty)

Darlington-based House of Zana (left) wins tribunal against retail giant Zara (House of Zana/Getty)

A small fashion firm has secured a victory against high-street brand Zara over claims its branding was “identical” to the latter.

Zara, which is owned by the biggest fashion group in the world, Inditex, threatened to take legal action against Darlington-based boutique House of Zana.

Amber Kotrri, who launched House of Zana online in 2018 and opened her first physical store a year later, received a notice of opposition when she attempted to trademark the name.

This was followed by a letter from lawyers representing Zara saying her brand was “conceptually identical” to theirs and “confusingly similar” for customers.

She said she was urged to rename her business and remove all existing branding.

However, Kotrri refused to sign the agreement and said there was “no risk to confusing us with Zara”.

She also argued that rebranding her business would cause “irreparable damage”.

A tribunal judge has sided with the small business owner and ruled that House of Zana can keep its name.

Judge Matthew Williams said: “I am satisfied that the differences between the marks … are sufficient to rule out the likelihood of direct confusion on the part of the average consumer.

“I accept that the choice of name is prompted by Ms Kotrri’s Albanian heritage and the idea of clothes manufactured with the magical delicacy of fairies, and I find no cynical motive in the use of the name.

“Even for those who, based on their perception of the similar component, call to mind the word Zara, I am not satisfied that the mental link would be more than fleeting.”

In its letter to Kotrri, Zara had argued that there was a risk that “consumers will misread, mishear, mispronounce and/or otherwise perceive House

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