After almost 12 years of creating perfumes and oils under her company Black Baccara, Kalliope Amorphous decided to make it official and file for a trademark back in December 2020.
She was shocked when Baccarat, a multi-million dollar crystal company, sent a cease and desist letter on Oct. 27 opposing her trademark request.
“It’s a classic example of trademark bullying,” she told SFGN. “There are no similarities between this luxury brand and myself whatsoever.”
Amorphous sells perfume and oils with witchy themes topping out at $160; Baccarat sells crystal pieces costing tens of thousands of dollars. In the cease and desist letter, the company claims, “Consumers will most likely make confusion between your goods commercialized until the trademark Black Baccara and our client’s goods.”
A New York-based artist and small business owner, Amorphous has spent the last month dealing with the case and has hired a lawyer to fight the more than 250-year-old French luxury brand. She said she offered to compromise with Baccarat by moving her trademark request to another category or even rescind her request altogether, but they wouldn’t budge.
Baccarat has not replied to a request for comment from SFGN.
Gwen Acker Wood, Ph.D. Esq., a Pittsburgh patent attorney representing Amorphous, explained that large companies will target smaller ones for trademark requests for two reasons: they don’t want their own name diluted in the marketplace and publicity. For example, Acker Wood recently reached a settlement with Apple when her client, a small indie-pop band called Candy Apple Blue, was targeted by the technology brand. Another artist, Franki Pineapple, was also targeted.
“They want to sweep the landscape clean of anyone that could possibly come near their famous mark in their field of use,” she explained.
As Acker Wood works on Amorphous’ case, what she finds odd is that of the 12 registrations that are alive under the Baccarat name, they chose not to include the class in the cease in desist that Black Baccara falls under.
“I think they’re very nasty,” she said of Baccarat. “They’re very vindictive. We tried over and over and over again to come to an amicable agreement where we were going to actually abandon the application and all we asked is that they leave Kalliope alone so she could just continue on with her business. At this point she almost doesn’t even want the registration, she just wants to be left alone, and they would not agree to leave her alone.”
With Small Business Saturday coming up this weekend, Amorphous tells SFGN that in dealing with the lawsuit she has not been able to focus on her holiday launch as normal. She has created a GoFundMe to help pay for legal fees as well as a Change.org petition. She’s even more disturbed by the fact that Baccarat has Nazi ties in its history — its director until 1991 was indicted with crimes against humanity for his role as a Nazi collaborator during World War II. The company also collaborated with the Germans during the war, supporting Vichy France and creating crystal ware that honored the Nazis.
“One hundred years ago, the people that they supported would have put me to death. So now it’s become a fight, it’s become a bigger fight for me,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to ever have to go through this. Part of the reason why I’m fighting is because I want to show other artists and small businesses that you don’t have to immediately back down and cower when you’re bullied by a big corporation like this.”