News & Insights

Zara lose claim against House of Zana

An independent boutique store win against Zara after claims that their branding was too similar.

House of Zana is a small store in Darlington which was opened in 2019 by Amber Kotrri following her website launch a year earlier. Shortly after filing for a trade mark for the name, she received a notice of opposition from Zara and a letter from their legal representation stating that her brand was too similar and confusing for customers, and because of this, she should change the name of her business and all other associated branding.

Amber completely disagreed with the idea that the brands could be confused as the business models are vastly different. She explained that her brand’s name came from the Albanian translation for “fairies” and her business specialised in handmade kimonos, something which Zara do not offer. Zara also offered to settle the matter outside of court in return for giving Amber more time to close down her business, which she rejected.

The tribunal concluded that any links between the two businesses were “insubstantial” and any similar conception between the two would be fleeting.

This win for House of Zana is a huge breakthrough and will hopefully encourage other small businesses to try and fight for their brands if they face opposition from a larger company. Although companies like Zara do still have a huge financial advantage and are able to follow through with their threats of Court proceedings without much harm to themselves, this case has brought a lot of discussions surrounding this advantage and whether more should be done to prevent large companies from potentially damaging small businesses for a very vague resemblance.

In the lead up to the trial Amber commented that she had been in contact with several other small businesses that Zara had opposed, claiming that the names and brands were too similar. Tara Sartoria who owns a small boutique that specialises in silk clothing and accessories received correspondence from Zara because their brand was called “Tara,” named after the Buddhist goddess of compassion and protection. “Zara Ceramics” also received notice from them and were forced to rebrand to “Zara McLaughlin Studio.”

Although often it does not make economic sense for small businesses to fight matters such as these, it is reassuring to know that the tribunals are able to differentiate the brands and accept that such a little resemblance is not worth forcing a business to change for.

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Article contributor – Louise Tindall, Business Services Team