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Designer Baby

"Armani was like any other baby, right down to his daily bottle, red stroller, Huggies diapers -- except for a hole cut out for his tail..."

Designer Giorgio ArmaniNo, the Washington Post isn't reporting a reality-based twist on The Devil Wears Prada.  The Armani in question is not the Italian designer -- who is NOT rumored to have a tail -- but his simian namesake, a capuchin monkey accused of being an illegal resident of Rockville, Maryland. 

The monkey's owner, Elyse Gazewitz, claims that she purchased him before a state law forbidding ownership of certain wild animals took effect last year. 

Could her choice of name for little Armani raise a different kind of legal objection, however?  As trademarks comprise an ever-increasing part of our cultural vocabulary, naming pets and even children after brands has become a common practice.  Could this trend constitute a violation of trademark law?

Happily for all the poodles named Chanel and pugs named Bentley, trademark infringement (including dilution of a famous mark) can occur only if the name is used in commerce.  So unless Ms. Gazewitz intends to become an organ grinder and thus in need of a traditional capuchin monkey to solicit donation from passers-by, Armani's name -- if not his residence -- is probably safe from legal threat. 

Then again, Armani's legal defense looks to be fairly expensive...

Organ grinder and monkey