Battle Over the Bay

July 2006

After spending $600,000 defending her company from a trademark lawsuit filed by eBay, Jacquelyn Tran, founder of online fragrance retailer Perfume Bay, decided to speak out. Since we profiled Tran last year ("The Young and the Restless," July 2006), she began blogging about her three-year dispute with eBay over her company's name. By launching, Tran becomes the latest entrepreneur to fight a suit by blogging. She joins the likes of Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, who created in response to a suit from Scotts Miracle-Gro (see "Legal Lemons, PR Lemonade," June). Scotts dropped the suit in September after TerraCycle agreed to modify its package design.

So far, Tran is pleased with the reaction to her blog, which has provoked hundreds of comments from customers. "I wanted to make it clear that this is not right," says Tran. "This case has been very costly and emotionally draining." An eBay spokesperson declined to comment on the case. Tran's dispute with eBay began in 2003, when eBay alleged that Perfume Bay (and its site, infringed upon its trademark. At the heart of the case was whether using the term "bay" was enough to dilute eBay's trademark. In 2005, a Los Angeles district judge decided that Tran's company name was fine, but that her Web address was too close to eBay's. The case is currently on appeal, with a ruling expected by the end of the year.