Superstar goes Gaga over Irish Lady Aga brand name
Fear of costly lawsuit forces cookery teacher to hand over domain name
Published 15/09/2013 | 05:00
POP superstar Lady Gaga unleashed the might of her top legal eagles to force an Irish chef to change the name of her new start-up business.
Nikki Walsh had ploughed months of hard work and a huge investment into building up her catering and food business – known under the catchy brand name Lady Aga.
But she was left reeling when the threat of costly legal action landed at her home in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
Lady Gaga is estimated to have earned a whopping $80m (€60m) between June 2012 and June 2013 alone. Her extravagant tastes are legendary – she once rolled out in a custom-made 24-carat gold-plated wheelchair.
But that didn't stop her taking issue with the small-time business woman and mother of two.
Nikki Walsh says she has had to buckle under the fear of the potentially costly suit – much to the dismay of her young children, who were big fans of the American songstress.
"She demanded I roll over and hand over my ladyaga.ie domain name and trademark. I was so terrified by her I did exactly what she said," Nikki told the Sunday Independent.
"I always thought Lady Gaga was great but couldn't believe she would be so petty to stop me in my tracks," Nikki added. "I used to admire her but not any more. My kids, Jamie and Evie, were also gutted. They enjoyed so much telling their friends about my name. It has caused great conversation in the school."
Speaking about the strongly worded letter, Nikki says: "I thought Lady Gaga's lawyers were over the top. The letter from her lawyers was so intimidating. I am an Irish cook, a girl passionate about cooking, food and Aga. It is as simple as that."
Explaining why she originally chose the Lady Aga name, she says: "I am a cookery teacher and cook from an Aga. I had built up a great reputation with people as Lady Aga, and people know me as that.
"The name told everyone what I was doing and what I was about. I did exactly what it said on the tin. So I was absolutely gutted when I opened the letter. I was shook. I had spent a lot of time and money on developing my brand."
In the letter – seen by the Sunday Independent – Lady Gaga's solicitors outline her phenomenal success, quoting the 23 million albums and 64 million singles the star has sold to date, while adding that two of her albums have "enjoyed multi-platinum success in Ireland".
The star's lawyers go on to demand an immediate transfer of Nikki's company name to the company Ate My Heart Inc – a company owned and controlled by Lady Gaga.
They also included a contract for Nikki to sign and return within seven days in which she must promise to transfer all rights of the name to the Bad Romance singer.
Nikki has agreed to Lady Gaga's demands for fear of taking on the singer's financial might, but she says she refuses to let the setback keep her down: "Aga has contacted me and asked me to be an Aga ambassador. I have rebranded to 'Lady Eve' – with my website now www.ladyeve.ie – as my daughter is called Evie and loves to cook.
"It also plays on Eve and the apple and the Lord Byron quote: 'When Eve ate the apple, much depends on dinner.' I am slowly rebuilding my brand.
"I adore what I do and I am good at it. Teaching cookery is extremely rewarding, and I love my cookery course for children and adults."
A legal expert last night said about the superstar's action against the Dublin mother-of-two: "I am not entirely convinced by Lady Gaga's assertions. It seems unlikely that members of the public would confuse Ms Walsh's blog as being associated with, or endorsed by, Lady Gaga," he told the Sunday Independent.
"There is a clear inequality of arms between one of the most wealthy and powerful female superstars on the planet on the one hand and an Irish food blogger on the other."
He added, "In my opinion she would have had a reasonable chance of defending her position."