Fishy happenings in the beauty industry: UK brand bickers with bloggers over invention of 'caviar manicure' (even though it's daft)
17:24 GMT, 1 August 2012
Olympic athletes such as Rebecca Adlington are giving elaborate nail art a renaissance this week, flashing their perkily patriotic polish jobs from the winners' podiums.
But if there's one piece of advice to which Becky and her friends should pay heed it is this: don't mess with the tight-knit community of nail-polish bloggers. (Yes, there really is one.)
Top British polish brand Ciat learned that the hard way.
Something fishy: Ciat's black pearl Caviar Manicure on nails and lips (though it is not advised to carry out the manicure on lips)
The claws have come out in a dispute
over who owns the intellectual property rights to one of the world's
most bizarre forms of nail art: the caviar manicure.
The manicure involves painting the nails with polish, then sticking hundreds and thousands of tiny microbeads on top of each nail, making it look as though they are decorated with caviar or, well, actual hundreds and thousands.
And the itty-bitty look is now at the centre of a tug-o-war between bloggers (who claim they have been using the style for aeons) and big polish label Ciat, who hit the bloggers with a 'cease and desist' notice while attempting to copyright the name.
The fishy business began when Ciat released their Caviar Manicure nail polish sets in April.
All that glitters: Ciat's Caviar Manicure, which has caused controversy within the nail polish blogging community (which really does exist – we promise)
Ciat's caviar collection: Caviar Manicure sets are available in three colours – Rainbow, Black Pearls and Mother of Pearls – on the Ciat website, priced 18 each
The website read: 'The inspiration behind the Caviar Manicure™ came about when Charlotte, Ciat’s Creative Director, was looking to create 3-dimensional nails for a front cover magazine shoot and wanted to develop something feminine, indulgent yet delicately extravagant
'The finished effect gives nails an instant sophisticated look. Very Ciat!'
Available in three colours – Mother of Pearl, Black Pearls and Rainbow – the sets cost 18, which some bloggers – including The Daily Varnish, Pretty Digits, Polish Police, Nailasaurus and A Lacquered Affair – found overpriced, leading them to offer DIY 'caviar manicure' tutorials on their blogs.
Get the look: Nail polish blogger The Nailasaurus published links to other blogs where you could learn how to carry out a DIY 'caviar manicure'
Ciat was not impressed and sending several bloggers letters reading: 'It has come to our attention that you are using the mark caviar manicure and/or caviar nails in relation to a manicure product/method of manicure.
'Brand Agency Limited (Ciat) own the trade marks caviar manicure and caviar nails and we are in the process of applying to register these mark around the world.
'Therefore you should not use the trade marks caviar manicure and/or caviar nails unless they are used in relation to products or to a method of using products that are produced by Ciat.
'Please confirm once you have removed references to our trade marks from your website.'
Fish egg Friday! Like many other bloggers, I Like To Talk A Lot published her DIY caviar manicure under a new title
Unhappy at the letter, nail blogger Polish Police posted a response saying: 'Applying to register a trademark is not the same as owning a trademark.
'And I really did not like the sound of that letter. What was that part about “avoiding confusion from the point of view of our customers”
'Did they just mean they didn't want people to know they can achieve the same manicure without splurging on their products'
It then came to light that Ciat were not the first to use the caviar manicure method and that nail bloggers had been experimenting with microbeads.
Olympic nail art: Olympic athletes have been rocking the patriotic look thanks to manicurist Sophy Robson who has been offeing her services in the Olympic Village in Stratford, east London
It also emerged that the Dashing Diva nail team and celebrity nail tech Pattie Yankee created the look for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week as early as February 2011, and that Yankee actually sought legal advice when Ciat's caviar manicure came out but could not afford the potentially huge costs a lawsuit would bring.
Outraged with Ciat but tired of the legal tussle, bloggers refused to remove their 'caviar manicure' tutorials, instead rebranding them as 'fish-egg manicures' and 'beluga bonanzas'.
Worried the company had offended some of the nail polish industry's most prominent and revered voices, Ciat issued a new statement: 'March 2012 saw the launch of Ciat Caviar Manicure, at this time we were in the process of trade marking the name “Caviar Manicure” in order to protect our packaging, this is a standard procedure most products by brands worldwide will go through.
She nailed it! Swimming hero Rebecca Adlington flashes her bronze medal and patriotic Sophy Robson Team GB nails on the winners' podium after the Women's 400m freestyle swim
'Unfortunately, during this sensitive period for us, seven bloggers who had re-created the look calling it the “Caviar Manicure” received a letter from our legal team.
'The letter requested avoidance of use of the term “Caviar Manicure” and the reasons were politely explained.
'Unfortunately, some bloggers misread this as a cease and desist notice, which it was not. It was never our intention to cause any upset or distress to the blogging community who have always been so very supportive to Ciat.
'An apology was immediately issued and indeed published online by one of the 7 bloggers who had received the initial letter.'
Ciat founder Charlotte Knight furthered the apology, saying: 'We hope to mend the relationships with those seven bloggers who we have unintentionally offended.'
Olympic spirit: Even singer Lily Allen showed her support for Team GB with a Sophy Robson manicure, and then tweeted the photo