Tag Archives: Fashion IP

Covering your assets.

Originally posted 2013-09-24 16:02:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Over the weekend, all the nerdiest news outlets reported that Volpin Props—a company that makes props and replicas “mostly videogame related,” according to the outfit’s Facebook page, “but anything goes!”)—received a cease-and-desist letter from Couristan, Inc., a rug and carpeting concern… for possibly the nerdiest/coolest reason imaginable (under the circumstances): Volpin had made for two attendees of the recent DragonCon—held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, a hotel with a wide variety of some very, very busy carpeting—custom camouflage outfits in the same pattern as one of the busier carpets at the venue. See a terrific photo here.

Does not wear carpet.

Does not wear carpet.

This probably would have been fine. That is, making custom carpet-camouflage costumes for a couple of conventioneers likely would not have gotten Volpin on Couristan’s radar. Or maybe it would have garnered Volpin praise from the carpeter. But Volpin didn’t just make the costumes; it reportedly put the fabric up for sale at Spoonflower.com, a site that sells fabrics, wallpapers, decals, gift wrap, etc. And that got Couristan’s attention—and Volpin got a C&D letter.

Because of course. And I mean that: Assuming that Couristan holds the copyright to the carpet pattern—and, man, what a pattern it is!—then Volpin can’t sell a fabric with that same pattern, else it infringe on Couristan’s intellectual property rights. And, to Volpin’s credit, the company’s principal—Harrison Krix, himself of Atlanta—has asked (on Facebook, where much of the public commentary has been posted) that people “not send Courtisan [sic] Inc or Marriott any nasty messages concerning this. I’m in complete agreement with their decision.”

(If you have three or four hours free, you might read the nearly 500 comments on Volpin’s Facebook posts about carpet-flage-gate. Then check out photos of all the carpeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.)

 

Fashionably litigious

Originally posted 2010-05-26 12:48:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Miss Trials is was a new blog, or sub-blog or something (I can’t make heads or tails of the navigation) on a site called Halogen Life.  [UPDATE:  This is a semblance what is looked like at first; this is what that URL looks like now — the blog is long gone. — RDC (July 2016)] It was written by Kelly Taylor — “a reformed politico, fashion writer and aspiring lead counsel for a major house of style.”

That’s her aspiration, yet she’s blogging?  Good luck with that!  Well, the blog is gone, actually.  But anyway, Kelly says said (the link is dead) that litigation is threatening to really rock the fashion business:

Not everyone in fashion supports a legal overhaul — designer Rick Owens has said he takes copycatting as a compliment. The industry, in part, thrives on knocking off garments. Unique, commercially successful designs do not come cheap. Top fashion designers can pull in millions a year for their work. One way lower market retailers keep costs down is by hiring cheaper design talent to simply translate the latest runway looks into marketable ready-to-wear pieces. Meryl Streep as Vogue editrix Anna Wintour — I mean — fictional Runway magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada broke it down best when she tracked the origin of her assistant’s frumpy sweater from Oscar de la Renta gowns to a Casual Corner clearance bin. Frequently, the inspiration is vague, like mimicking a trendy silhouette or color. The problems arise when the line between inspiration and duplication blur.

Artistic integrity isn’t the only factor in play — exclusivity is a crucial part of the luxury industry. Sartorial snobbery is rampant in many knock-off allegations. Some designers have gone so far as to say that they don’t want plebeians affording their highly-publicized pieces — they’re to be donned by the elite of the world, not, as Versace’s CEO put it, “young girls who can put the designer handbag of their dreams on their arm with less than 300 Euros.”

Is copying a piece down to the smallest detail morally wrong? Absolutely. Should those companies be sued? Probably. But the ramifications of opening the door to a litany of design infringement suits could put a serious damper on mass-market clothing chains. Taking high fashion trends and making them affordable and accessible is nothing new in the apparel industry. Nothing can prevent designers from taking to court to defend their work, but the industry as a whole might want to be wary about eating its young.

Arguing for long-term perspective as a damper on litigation? Good luck with that, too!  Hat tip to @walterolson.

Someone dropped in an extra zero, right? RIGHT?

Originally posted 2008-10-16 00:01:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It’s a month-old story, and how it got past us here notwithstanding, it’s not getting past us now.  Per the ABA Journal, remember the Bratz litigation?  Well, you haven’t read half of it yet:

Two toy companies battling for rights to the Bratz dolls-with-attitude have racked up legal fees of at least $93 million in the case.

MGA Entertainment has spent $63 million in fees since 2004 defending a lawsuit by Mattel Inc. that contended the doll’s designer conceived of the idea before leaping from Mattel to MGA, the Daily Journal reports (sub. req.). Plaintiff Mattel has spent $30 million in just the first half of the year, the story says.

Mattel was awarded $100 million in the case, far short of the more than $2 billion in damages it had sought.

The Daily Journal got MGA’s figures in a lawsuit it filed against its insurers seeking full payment of the Bratz fees, while the publication got the Mattel figure from a stock analyst.

The ABA item quotes a Jones Day litigation partner who is flummoxed at the idea that there is any conceivable way to get to $93 million for a trademark case, even over the course of four years.  We sure are, too.  And re-read this ‘graph:

MGA Entertainment has spent $63 million in fees since 2004 defending a lawsuit by Mattel Inc.  . . . Plaintiff Mattel has spent $30 million in just the first half of the year, the story says.

That $30 million was just the first half of ’08!  That means Mattel spent WAY more than $30 million since the suit began in ’04, and that the total legal fees must have blasted way, way past $100 million since the case began.

Is there anyone out there who can even remotely do this math and explain how you can get to numbers like this — not how they can be justified, for, given the business interests involved, they are not irrational.  But how many widgets, and of what kind, does a law firm have to spit out to get to these kinds of numbers?

The sincerest form of flattery

Originally posted 2014-03-14 10:40:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Susan Scafidi seems genuinely shocked — no, I mean, genuinely!  — over this comment by Ralph Lauren:

Nit fun unzer

When the New York Times‘ Eric Wilson listened to Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren chat for charity, one exchange stood out:

“How do you keep reinventing?”

“You copy,” he said. “Forty-five years of copying, that’s why I’m here.”

Of course, everyone knows that the signature looks of the Ralph Lauren family of brands are inspired by classic Americana — with an occasional detour around the globe — but coming from the guy who was on the losing end of the best-known design piracy case of the late 20th century, the admission strikes a chord.

Honestly, honesty?  Now, when the U.S. may be on the brink of finally passing a law that, while it wouldn’t come anywhere near the level of the French protection that wrangled Ralph, would have a similar effect in some cases?

Oh, that law!

Well, a litigation dust-up here and there notwithstanding, Ralph can afford to be honest, honestly.  I think, indeed, Mr. Lifshitz is referring not to copying other proprietary designs, but to that talent that turned him into a gazillionaire:  Mastering the art of assimilating and replicating the look and feel not, with all due respect, of “classic Americana” but a very focused upper-crust Northeastern WASP sub culture and making it his own.

I when I was in college, I observed plenty of Jewish kids from backgrounds like mine, but a generation or two deeper entrenched in assimilation, do this on a personal level.  Some pulled the copying it off, some didn’t.  (I mainly went in the other direction.)  Ralph went beyond accessorizing social climbing mobility and ethnic metamorphosis to selling them.  And he did  it brilliantly, tastefully and very, very profitably.

He’s a real gem.  Why should he lie about “stealing”?

The better question is a question on the one Susan asks at the end of her article:  “Now, when the U.S. may be on the brink of finally passing a law that, while it wouldn’t come anywhere near the level of the French protection that wrangled Ralph, would have a similar effect in some cases?

Of course it would.  Absolutely.  But the real question is not what would effect would the substantive provisions of the IDPPPA have had, in the abstract.  It’s what effect would the cost of the IDPPPA have had on the young House of Lauren. Read More…

Couture in Court

Originally posted 2012-02-29 23:27:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Fabulous filings for fashionistas — and those who just want to look like them!

Luxury goods rental

Originally posted 2013-08-15 15:06:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Bag Borrow or Steal™ – Borrow or Rent the Latest Authentic Designer Handbags Purses Jewelry and Accessories.”

You know they — the Big IP guys — are sitting in conference rooms trying to figure out how to stop this.

Soon enough when you buy a Gucci bag, it will come with a non-transferable “licensing” agreement!

My actual prediction:  They will make IP claims preventing the display of their merchandise in connection with promotion of this service, claiming, preposterously, a LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION as to affiliation, sponsorship, ownership… something.

Major League Baseball – SDNY Balks?

SoxA potentially troubling (from the teams’ point of view) thought from the Southern District of New York in a case brought by Major League Baseball against a company selling beanbags with team names, colors and logos on them, reported by the NY Law Journal (subscription required):

The Court finds that a genuine issue of fact exists as to whether MLB Clubs’ trade dress has achieved a secondary meaning in the marketplace. As such, summary judgment on MLBP’s Lanham Act claim is inappropriate.

Wow. In other words, are the logos and team colors of the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and other billion-dollar busineses protectable as trademarks? Think of the possibilities.

Full decision here.

Best of 2008: Someone dropped in an extra zero, right? RIGHT?

Posted on October 16, 2008.

It’s a month-old story, and how it got past us here notwithstanding, it’s not getting past us now.  Per the ABA Journal, remember the Bratz litigation?  Well, you haven’t read half of it yet:

Two toy companies battling for rights to the Bratz dolls-with-attitude have racked up legal fees of at least $93 million in the case.

MGA Entertainment has spent $63 million in fees since 2004 defending a lawsuit by Mattel Inc. that contended the doll’s designer conceived of the idea before leaping from Mattel to MGA, the Daily Journal reports (sub. req.). Plaintiff Mattel has spent $30 million in just the first half of the year, the story says.

Mattel was awarded $100 million in the case, far short of the more than $2 billion in damages it had sought.

The Daily Journal got MGA’s figures in a lawsuit it filed against its insurers seeking full payment of the Bratz fees, while the publication got the Mattel figure from a stock analyst.

10 Years of LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®

10 Years of LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®

The ABA item quotes a Jones Day litigation partner who is flummoxed at the idea that there is any conceivable way to get to $93 million for a trademark case, even over the course of four years.  We sure are, too.  And re-read this ‘graph: Read More…

To die for!

Counterfeit Chic logo

My own moments of snark notwithstanding–no, you don’t even get a link; if you missed it, then good–I am pleased to announce that the very bestest blog on fashion IP is back on track after an utterly inexcusable fashionable hiatus from posting: Susan Scafidi’s Counterfit Chic!

Now I have to go back to checking, but it will be a pleasure as I:

Oh there’s more, more, more, which is how we like it.  Get Counterfeit Chic back on your short list!

Smocking it out

Sabrina alleged knockoffBen Manevitz updates us on the Diane van Furstenburg “you stole my smock” litigation.

Ben’s take: “As a litigator, I’m going to give everyone involved in any litigation the secret! the best piece of advice ever! Ready? Here: Shut Up!”

Easy advice to give, but darn it, I like to say “smock”!  Smock, smock, smock, smock, smock, smock.