De Beers Settles Millennium Trademark Case

June 1, 1999

De Beers Settles Millennium Trademark Case

De Beers and Alfred Dunhill have settled legal proceedings they initiated over who had the right to use the term "millennium."

Dunhill registered "millennium" as a trademark in England and the U.S. nearly 10 years ago and recently challenged De Beers' use of the term in its massive 1999-2000 Millennium Diamonds campaign.

Legal trademark experts in the U.S. have questioned whether the term millennium would stand up to a legal challenge because it is in common usage and, thus, may not be defensible as a trademark. (Read related story.)

De Beers raised the same issues in England, but according to De Beers, it has now agreed to take a license from Dunhill to use the term in relation to high-quality diamonds. The amount paid for the license was undisclosed; De Beers officials were unavailable for comment at press time. Its right to use the term also protects distributors and retailers of De Beers' products.

- by William H. Donahue Jr.