Neiman Marcus Threatens Nonprofit Thrift Shop with Trademark Suit


September 18, 2012; Source: The State

Revente’s Last Call is a two-year-old thrift store established by a local businesswoman in Columbia, South Carolina to help fund a women’s shelter. The shelter helps women emerging from bad situations, such as drug addiction or jail, get back on their feet. But the store is being threatened by Neiman Marcus with a legal suit because, as Neiman Marcus states in its letter to the thrift store, it owns the trademark for the term “Last Call” where clothing sales is concerned.

(This story reminds us of another excruciatingly dumb legal action.) 

Neiman Marcus (sometimes informally known as Needless Markup) uses the “Last Call” trademark for their outlet stores where they sell items that are out of season. They do not have a “Last Call” store in South Carolina. Company spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said, “We’re not trying to shut them down. We’re not trying to get in the way of their good work,” she said. “What we do need to protect is our trademark. We have to be consistent.” She says she wants to work out an amicable solution.

In the two years it has been open, Revente’s Last Call has donated 100 percent of its profits to the shelter – more than $40,000.

James Smith, a Columbia state representative, is acting as pro-bono attorney on the trademark-infringement case and is in discussion with Neiman Marcus officials. “They appreciate the mission behind what Debbie’s doing with Revente’s Last Call,” Smith said, referring to the store’s owner, Debbie McDaniel. “My hope is out of this comes an even greater opportunity for the Women’s Shelter.” –Ruth McCambridge

  • Margaret A. Riley

    It is almost unimaginable that this kind of corporate greed exists. Did Neiman Marcus even check to see who the proceeds benefited and what this shelter for homeless women does for the less fortunate. I know the shelter well and the people who run this shelter. There are no more dedicated people. To think that Revente’s Last Call donates all of their proceeds to the Women’s Shelter and ends up being threatened by a company like Neiman Marcus is unbelievable. I hope that this story goes national so that their customers really know what their all about. I for one would never enter their store again and encourage others to do likewise. Thank God for all the people like Reventes. We need a lot more people like them.


    Peg Riley

  • Sean Riley

    Another petty lawsuit by a giant store. My Aunt has been the Execitive Director of the Women’s Shelter since the early 80’s and has put her heart and soul into helping women. Debbie McDaniel should be commended for her help and hopefully everyone wins as a result of this lawsuit. How is this for a suggestion, Neiman Marcus can have their “Last Call” name as long as they agree to pay for all new signs and advertisement for Debbie.To make it an even better gesture, give a one time donation to the shelter or maybe agree to match dollar for dollar on everyhting Debbie gives to the Shelter over the next several years.
    Just an opinion from a proud Nephew from Boston.

  • Fred Delk

    Talk about Corporate Irresponsibility. Clearly Neiman Marcus should stop this action then make up for the stress of this issue with a big donation to the Womens Shelter. An amount equal to Revente’s Last Call donation for the last couple of years, over $40,000, would be easy for Neiman Marcus to do. This small token would be a life changer for the women served by this organization. This is just dumb.

  • Lamont Coopersville

    Too many attorneys with not enough to do? Was this action perchance filed on a Friday afternoon?

  • Karen Wu

    Companies need to protect their trademark rights, and sometimes that may require confronting a nonprofit organization who may be using a similar mark in a manner that is socially beneficial.

    Trademark laws exist to protect those who seek to protect their intellectual property. As an attorney who regularly counsels nonprofits on the importance of protecting their trademarks, I also advise my clients to avoid infringing on others’ marks, which often includes trademarks owned by for-profit entities. The article offers little to help readers evaluate the merits of the infringement claim, and instead relies on emotion to lead its readers to a negative conclusion.

    Trademark owners have a responsibility to enforce their trademark rights or risk diluting their value and creating confusion in the marketplace. For-profits should make objective and thoughtful decisions about which actions to pursue, and doing so might occasionally require confronting a nonprofit. The article at least acknowledges that Neiman Marcus is seeking to work out an amicable solution, which demonstrates their good faith approach to the situation.

    Disclaimer: These comments do not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.