Ferret fashion furore

Ever mindful of its image, British luxury goods firm Burberry has threatened legal action against a company making garments in its trademark check pattern—for ferrets.

In what must count as one of the more unusual trademark disputes of recent years, Burberry’s lawyers have sent letters to Ferret World, the country’s only outlet for clothes made especially for the rodents, a popular pet.

According to Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph, the trouble began when the shop in Dudley, central England, advertised a check-patterned fur-lined ferret cap and cape ensemble “in the famous Burberry design”.

Owner Simon Bishop said he was shocked to get a letter from Burberry saying he had violated its intellectual property rights, and agreed to remove the mention of the company’s name from his shop’s website.

But Burberry also demanded he send it a sample of the material used to make the £6,99 (R80) outfits—claimed to give your ferret “that out of town look”; hand over the names of all purchasers; and promise never to sell anything similar again.

“Burberry should get a life,” Bishop told the newspaper, saying he was still being threatened with legal action even though his material was a standard tartan, not the Burberry check.

“As far as I can see, their trademark refers to jackets and headwear for humans, and dog coats. How a two-inch cap for a ferret fits into that is anyone’s guess,” he added.

Burberry became famous for its invention of the gabardine waterproof raincoat and for providing kit to officers in the British armed forces during World War I.

In recent years, it has revitalised its image and become a leading manufacturer of luxury branded clothing and other goods.

However, in Britain its check-pattern caps and scarves have been adopted by some young football hooligans as a sort of uniform, hitting the brand’s cachet.

A spokesperson for Burberry said the firm has no plans for a line of ferret accessories, but “that’s not to say there won’t be”.—AFP


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