Fashion magazine Vogue threatens to sue historic Cornish pub that shares its name

Mark Graham standing outside his pub The Star Inn at Vogue. Credit: BPM Media

Vogue magazine has threatened to sue an historic Cornish pub because they share the same name.

Condé Nast, the owner of Vogue magazine, sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the Star Inn at Vogue which is named after the local hamlet.

The pub is more than 200 years old and the village is even older.

The letter asked landlords Mark and Rachel Graham to stop using the name of the Cornish hamlet because it might confuse readers.

Mark said: “When I opened the letter I thought someone in the village was having me on. Surely these people can’t be serious. In this modern day and age someone couldn’t be bothered to go onto Google and see that Vogue is a Cornish hamlet that’s been here for hundreds of years. It seems common sense has taken a backseat on this one.”

In a letter to the couple on 1 March 2022, Condé Nast’s chief operating officer, Sabine Vandenbroucke, wrote: “Our company is the proprietor of the Vogue mark, not only for its world-famous magazine first published in November 1916 but in respect of other goods and services offered to the public by our company.

“We are concerned that the name which you are using is going to cause problems because as far as the general public is concerned a connection between your business and ours is likely to be inferred.”

At the end it adds: “Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action.”

Mark Graham wrote back saying he would not change the name of his pub. Credit: BPM Media

Mark has since replied with a a selection of photos of the pub and street names found in the area, bearing the name Vogue.

In his letter to the New York publisher’s London offices, Mark wrote: “If a member of your staff had taken the time to investigate they would have discovered that our company, the Star Inn, is in the small village of Vogue, near St Day, Cornwall. Yes, that’s right, Vogue is the name of our village, which has been in existence for hundreds of years and in fact is a Cornish word, not English.

"I note in your letter that you have only been in existence since 1916 and I presume that at the time when you chose the name Vogue in the capitalised version you didn’t seek permission from the villagers of the real Vogue. I also presume that Madonna did not seek your permission to use the word Vogue (again the capitalised version) for her 1990s song of the same name.

"You are both at liberty to use the uncapitalised version without our permission. As a side note she didn’t seek our permission either.”

Mark concluded saying: “In answer to your question whether we would change our name, it is a categorical no.”

Conde Nast have since replied and backed down on their threat of legal action.

They said: "We were grateful for your response and to learn more about your business in this beautiful part of our country.

"I am sure you will appreciate why we regularly monitor use of the name VOGUE, including at Companies House (which is how we were alerted to your company name).

"However, you are quite correct to note that further research by our team would have identified that we did not need to send such a letter on this occasion.

"Everyone at Condé Nast wishes you and everyone in Vogue best wishes for a happy summer, and for your upcoming “American Night” on 18 May."