August 22, 2009

Ali vs. Stella - The Fight Is Over

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  U2 front man Bono...Image by Getty Images via Daylife


By James Lumley

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Nude Brands Ltd., a cosmetics company founded by the wife of U2’s Bono, Ali Hewson, lost a London court bid to block fashion designer Stella McCartney from introducing a new perfume this weekend.

Stella McCartney Ltd., a unit of L’Oreal SA, plans to begin selling the fragrance named “STELLANUDE” in the U.K. on Aug. 22, according to the judgment. Hewson’s Nude Brands has a European Union trademark on “nude” in capital letters and asked the London court for an order delaying sales of the perfume pending a full trial on trademark issues.

McCartney, daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney, has been designing clothing since 1995. Paris-based L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics maker, bought PPR SA’s YSL Beaute unit last year and gained the exclusive right to negotiate an accord to make fragrances under the Stella McCartney brand.

While Nude Brands might “ultimately prevail at trial,” the “massive disruption” that would be done to L’Oreal’s business if the order was wrongly granted would outweigh the damage to Nude Brands by refusing to grant it, Justice Christopher Floyd said today.

Delaying the sale of the product would cost the company “many millions of pounds in lost investment,” a witness for Stella McCartney Ltd. said at a hearing earlier this week.

The deadline for canceling advertisements has passed and 26,000 bottles of the product were delivered to stores, according to the judgment.


Courts are “more and more reluctant” to grant orders such as the one sought by Nude Brands, Kirsten Gilbert, a partner and trademark specialist at Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP in London, said by telephone. “There is so much at stake.”

“This does not in any way say whether or not there was trademark infringement,” Gilbert said. “Bono’s wife now has the right to continue with her case in a full trial and if she can demonstrate that there’s been trademark infringement, she’s entitled to damages.”

A full trial will take place next year, Nude said in a statement on its Web site.

“Nude considers the launch of ‘Stella Nude’ by L’Oréal to be a clear infringement of Nude’s trademark,” the company said. “Nude was forced to take the matter to the English High Court.”

Fresh & Wild

The company was co-founded by Hewson and Bryan Meehan, the founder of a chain of U.K. organic-goods stores called “Fresh & Wild.” Irish rock-star Bono’s given name is Paul Hewson.

L’Oreal said in an e-mailed statement that it was “pleased with the decision of the High Court.” The company “will be proceeding with the launch of STELLANUDE as planned.”

The case is Nude Brands Ltd. v. Stella McCartney Ltd., 09- C02715, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at

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