Michelle Dy copied Jeffree Star’s ‘Approved’ slogan, but is it trademarked?

August 2, 2018 - 3:51 PM
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Social media personalities Jeffree Star and Michelle Dy, who are both makeup vloggers, had a public feud over the use of a catch phrase. (Jeffree Star and Michelle Dy via Instagram)

A popular Filipino beauty blogger earned the ire of a popular American makeup artist and vlogger for using an allegedly trademarked phrase and format in a YouTube video series.

Michelle Dy had just started a video series called “MD Approved,” inspired by Jeffree Star’s “Jeffree Star Approved” branding in his own YouTube channel.

What Dy did not expect was that Jeffree noticed her series and placed a comment under one of her videos. Jeffree accused her of “stealing” his trademarked phrase.

He described Dy’s efforts as “pathetic,” and even threatened to sue her.

Michelle Dy is now cancelledt ? bye mOmsHieChanel Vs Sm Novaliches. #TeamJeffreeStar#BuyJoanneOnItunes

Posted by Ernst Dela Cruz on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The scathing comment was not the end of it. In an Instagram story on July 31, Jeffree ranted against Dy, while not naming her, but referred to her as “a vlogger who’s not known in America.”

When the controversy blew up, Dy immediately apologized to Jeffree through a public letter she shared on her social media accounts. She said she did not know that the “Jeffree Star Approved” title is copyrighted in the United States.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to Jeffree Star if in any way or another, I may have violated your rights from the use of your trademark,” she said.

Dy explained that she planned the new new video series to become the Filipino version of makeup videos of international vloggers she looks up to.

“I am sharing this to all of you to serve as a lesson for all of us. I believe that a mistake cannot be corrected with another mistake,” she wrote.

Besides being a beauty vlogger, Jeffree also owns an eponymous cosmetics line. He is also known for his frank reviews of cosmetics products on his YouTube channel.

He tweeted that he will trademark all his catch-phrases, which include the “approved” remark and logo he had been using in his own work for over two years.

Jeffree Star’s registered trademarks

The American beauty guru claimed that the “Jeffree Star Approved” brand had been trademarked by his lawyer. A quick search of registered trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows three items on the list under his name:

  1. JEFFREE STAR COSMETICS — Registered on July 26, 2016
  2. JEFFREE STAR LIP AMMUNITION — Filed on Oct. 20, 2014; Abandoned on Oct. 20, 2017
  3. JEFFREE STAR — Filed on March 16, 2007; Abandoned on Dec. 28, 2007

While it is likely that “Jeffree Star Approved” was not trademarked, Dy’s project could be an infringement of the execution of the makeup artist’s idea.

Trademarks vs copyright

The terms “trademark” and “copyright” have been used interchangeably in conversations arising from the vloggers’ feud. While both protect a person’s intellectual property, what they protect distinguish one from the other.

A trademark is “any legally-protected abstract or figural representation or slogan” used or associated with a company or brand and sets it apart in the market.

A copyright is the legal right of any person to own and distribute his or her original work, which include “literary, musical or artistic work.”

An author’s original work is already copyrighted after it was created, while one has to register for a trademark.