A good warning for all you small business owners: when you name your small business, stay away from anything that suggests a big, very rich business, because that big, very rich business will sue you.
I just read this story in the Times about an Indiana lady named Chanel Jones (it’s her real name), who named her salon after herself. I mean, why not? Well, because CHANEL (I put it into caps because that’s how big and egregiously, um, egregious it is) told her to cease and desist using her own name for her own salon. Because. ‘Chanel’s Salon’ May Not Have Been the Best Choice for a Name – NYTimes.com.
Nasty on the part of Chanel the Corp, which was founded, let us remember, by a gifted but morally questionable single woman who used whatever she had and whoever she had to rise to ethereal heights, vast wealth, and, oh yes, a tad of collaboration with the occupying Nazis.
I have a strong feeling that Chanel Jones is a much nicer person than Coco, but hey, this is what happens when companies become bigger than whole countries: they lose any sense of balance, humor and compassion and become rabid moralistic hypocrites.
The first time I learned that big, powerful people would crush small little people without compunction was when a refined pizza place/Italian restaurant name Picasso opened years ago on Bleecker Street, in the Village. It had (and the premises still has) a genuine, round brick pizza oven, and a garden, and wine and it was good.
Then we heard the news that the Picasso family had told the guy who owned Picasso the Restaurant that he was infringing upon their whatever. Their brand? Their platform? Their pizza oven? Oh screw them. I don’t remember the outcome. It may actually have been that the ever so greedy Picasso family demanded a cut of the proceeds, but I may be wrong about that.
In any case, the restaurant owner − who told us he’d named the place as he did because he was a great admirer of the painter’s work (and indeed had Picasso prints on the walls) − kept the name.
Boo hiss Big Famous People and your Big Lawyers: this kind of action upon individuals is way, way over the top. Maybe I should call for a boycott of Chanel products. Yes, why not?
P.S. Toward the end of the article you’ll find advice to small business owners about avoiding this sort of problem.