Green the Gap, an Indian company which runs three stores in the country, mainly sells accessories and home decor items made out of waste including beer cans, rubber tires, and fruit cartons.
In March, the owners were slapped with a legal notice by Gap asking them to change their name and remove any reference to the company from their labels within 14 days.
A month later, the US retailer told the Indian firm it could keep its name for registration purposes but must remove any mention of Gap in their labelling and on their website, one of the owners said. “We were shocked and angered that a company of that size and stature and supposed respectability is getting threatened by a small business”.
He added that Green the Gap’s name was an environmental reference: “We wanted to ask people is it possible to consume less and can we consume green? We upcycle trash which means we add value to junk by creating a new and useful product,” he said, adding that the idea of competing with Gap was nowhere in their minds.
“For us ‘gap’ is a word in the English language that means void, absence. How can you monopolize a common English word? Next we will hear we can’t use apple and orange in our lexicon. This is plain ridiculous.”
Indeed! Plain words can be monopolized (Apple computer / Orange telecom, anyone?). Be it for specific goods or services for which the name is not descriptive.
Gap may have a strong case here.
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