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SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK (Reuters) - A battle between the pop star and the fashion brand just turned fierce.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co, the apparel retailer known for sexy advertising and casual looks, has sued the singer Beyonce Knowles, claiming her plan for a new fragrance to be launched in early 2010 infringes on its existing trademark.
In a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, Abercrombie claims a fragrance under the singer's "Sasha Fierce" label "poses a likelihood of confusion" with the retailer's own "Fierce" brand.
It said such confusion could deprive it of control over a trademark it has used since 2002, and perhaps cost it sales. The lawsuit seeks to halt potential trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
Representatives of Knowles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Best known for clothing sold to teens and college-age adults, New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie said it has sold more than $190 million worth of fragrance under the Fierce name, and expects $64 million of sales in 2009.
Abercrombie sells Fierce at more than 350 retail stores and on its website, typically for $40 to $70 in bottles featuring a young man's muscular, nude torso. The fragrance is sprayed throughout stores via a scent machine or by store employees.
"A&F's intent is that all garments that leave the store have the FIERCE scent attached to them," the complaint said.
The company markets Fierce as a men's cologne whose "fresh citrus aroma" and "warm musky subtleness" will "naturally draw her curiosity because of its seductive nature."
A saleswoman at a San Francisco store nonetheless described it as a "unisex" scent.
Fragrance maker Coty Inc has signed an agreement to market Knowles' fragrance.
Knowles, often known solely by her first name, is one of the world's best-known singers, after having risen to fame as lead singer of the group Destiny's Child.
Last November, her album "I am ... Sasha Fierce" debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. On Sunday, the song "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" from that album won the Video of the Year award at the MTV Video Music Awards.
In English vernacular "fierce" means "cool" or "fabulous."
The case is Abercrombie & Fitch Co v. Knowles, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus), No. 09-807.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Matthew Lewis