Local hair salon sued by iconic Swedish vodka company

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EVERETT — A local hair salon that shares the name of an iconic Swedish vodka is being sued by the liquor’s manufacturer for $20,000, placing a heavy burden on a popular local business.

Absolut Hair Salon and Makeup, located on Beverly Boulevard in Everett, was recently sued by the Los Angeles-based McDermott, Will & Emery, an international law firm representing The Absoult Company.

The owner of the hair salon, Jessee Skiterall, said the suit claims he committed trademark infringement. Mr. Skiterall bought Absolut Hair Salon and Makeup in 2009, and the store has operated under the same name since April 1998, the owner said.

He’s not sure why the liquor company is now fighting the name, but after consulting a lawyer Skiterall said he has no choice but to change the brand.

“Absolut Hair and Makeup has been a part of the Everett community for over 15 years and not once did we even think there could be a problem with the name,” Skiterall said. “The staff and I can’t believe it and I am just devastated.”

Skiterall and others said the cost of rebranding will cut into the business’ small profits.

“It’s not just the cost of interior and exterior signage to us,” Absolut Hair and Makeup Concierge Boo Brantley said. “We have heavily invested in our new website, which will need to be completely redesigned.”

The owner is unsure exactly how much rebranding will cost, but said it will greatly affect his business and customers. He is not sure when the change will be completed.

Comments from an Absolut Vodka spokesperson were not immediately available. Absolut is the third largest alcohol brand in the world, and is owned by French group Pernod Ricard.

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  • Tonia

    Add an "E" to the end of Absolut and then it's not the same as the vodka brand. They can't sue over a name that is spelled differently from theirs.

  • Jason Morgan

    Where is the proof that he is getting sued? In other reports he said he estimates it will cost him $20k to change the name, website, etc. So his estimate has now turned into a full fledged lawsuit…What a bunch of clowns….irresponsible journalism at its very best.

    • sara

      See my comment below. Unless Absolut bought every service and product category i can't see why he thinks he has to change the name.

  • Shannon

    Please fact-check before you report. He is NOT being sued by Absolut — he is being told he must change the name; he is estimating that name change will cost him $20,000.

      • Shannon

        What I'm saying is that the first sentence of this article says that the hair salon "…is being sued by the liquor's manufacturer for $20,000." It is EXACTLY what the article says, and it is incorrect. No one is being sued, and the figure of $20,000 is what the owner estimates his damages to be. Therefore, the very first sentence of this article is not factual.

        And trademark infringement does not require that "you be in the same line of business." Absolut did not buy "every single product and service category." Do some research on U.S. Trademark Law.

          • Shannon

            It wasn't my intention to be "witchy." My first response was to the author of the article; it's frustrating to read a news report that gets its first sentence wrong.

            My second response was to Sara, who rebutted my comment and wrote "that's not what the article says", when it is precisely what the article says. That's also frustrating.

            I'm sure some people commenting may have some relation to the business or to the owner and I understand their concern. I sympathize with him as well. But that doesn't change the law. I think it may be because the word absolute (with the e) is a word in the English language, that people are having a hard time with this. Because I think most would understand they couldn't name their business Kettle One Hair & Nails. Abslolut is a trademark and the woman who started this business had no business using it. End of story. Absolut is not looking to hand it to the little guy; it is a requisite response to protect their trademark in all situations. What will likely end up happening is that Abslout will help the owner out and pay him the money it will cost him to add an e, and everyone will be OK.

          • Warrior

            Just because you know the law better than some posters on here doesn't mean you can belittle them. I studied law and understand where you are coming from in that aspect. The law is the law. That said, it shouldn't give big businesses carte blanche to nail the little guy, and yes that is what Absolut is doing and I highly doubt they will help the hair salon owner with the cost of rebranding his business. If the business has had that name for as long as stated, it's simply wrong for Absolut to force a name change. The cost to fight it in court would be a huge burden on the owner even if he won.

  • Sara

    I don't understand why they would win this suit. The two companies are in totally different types of businesses. Trademark infringement usually requires that you be in the same line of business. I guess Absolut was smart enough to buy every single product and service category.

  • Warrior

    Law suit or not, the cost is a burden on the small business. He should be able to keep the name. Hair and vodka are totally different industries so it's not like anyone would think they were related to one another based on the name alone. Ridiculous.

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