Attention “Unionmade”: We’re not flattered by imitation.
What happens when a company that acknowledges its clothing is not union-made names itself “Unionmade” anyway? Count on union members proud of their reputation for quality work to say, “Give it up.” In a letter Thursday, the AFL-CIO demanded that the apparel company Unionmade—which also has a logo suspiciously like the historic AFL-CIO “handshake” logo—stop its trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The federation told the company to immediately stop using the logo (including not selling items showing it and removing the sign from stores and online sites) and change the store name so it “does not deceive the public into thinking that they are purchasing items that are actually made by union workers….”
Hamilton Nolan at Gawker.com recently covered Unionmade’s deceptive presentation of its products. When pushed, Nolan wrote, Unionmade admitted “some of the brands we carry are union made, many are not.” In a September Huffington Post column, professor Peter Dreier at Occidental College described his discovery of the not-union-made phenomenon and his interview with Unionmade’s Todd Barket:
So isn’t the store’s name, Unionmade, a bit misleading?
“It had nothing to do with unions,” Barket said. “I’m surprised that people took the name literally.”
The AFL-CIO’s cease and desist letter to Barket spells out the problem with the company’s name this way:
The AFL-CIO finds your use of the UNIONMADE mark highly misleading as the dictionary definition and understanding amongst the public is that “union-made” means “produced by workers belonging to a labor union.”
Read the full letter here.
Donna Jablonski is the AFL-CIO’s deputy director of public affairs for publications, Web and broadcast. This post first appeared on the AFL-CIO blog.