Circus Clashes with Cosmetic Co.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has a bone to pick with Sephora over the cosmetic giant's circus-themed marketing campaign.

On Nov. 28 Ringling brought suit against Sephora in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging the company infringed its popular "The Greatest Show on Earth" trademark, which Ringling says has been associated with its brand since the 1890s. Sephora is using the expression "The Greatest Gift Show on Earth" as part of its holiday advertising campaign.

In addition, Sephora gave its Web site a circus-themed makeover with monkeys and models flying on trapezes. Ringling also takes issues with the slogan "Cirque de Beaute," which Sephora is using in advertising materials.

According to the complaint, Ringling sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sephora on Nov. 8, but received no response. Ringling later contacted Sephora and asked the company to remove the infringing items. However, Sephora refused, stating that it wouldn't do so until it conducted its own investigation of the IP issues.

Ringling is seeking compensatory damages as well as $5 million in punitives.

staff Writer

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