View from Mt. Holyoke - Thomas Cole“Green trademarks” that is. Green-themed, green-related, green to go, green for action! Well, trends aren’t just for marketers — you can find them in the media too. First, Susan Scafidi — trend-tracker extraordinaire, and, as you will see, a trend-maker too. This was on her awesomely chic blog but refers to an interview she did that was published in a Milwaukee newspaper on April 21st:

Eco-friendly fashion has escaped the confines of shapeless, formless, colorless sack dresses and ugly earth sandals to become a major fashion trend, with cutting-edge retailers like Barney’s New York shouting, “Don’t Panic! It’s Organic!” and celebrities adding their names to labels that promise sustainable, recycled, natural, biodegradable, cruelty-free, fair trade fashion fixes. With the text on some hang tags longer than an editorial in an alternative weekly and the British Advertising Standards Authority cracking down on unsustainable claims regarding “sustainable” cotton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Lori Price asked your favorite law prof whether U.S. law offers any specific regulations regarding green clothing claims.

That should just about do it right there! But nope. Two days later, here’s the big trademark story on Ad Age:

Getting ready well in advance for today’s Earth Day events, marketers bombarded the Patent and Trademark Office last year for green-themed marks, leading to a 10% spike in trademark filings over 2006, according to a report released by the law firm Dechert.

According to the annual report “Trends in Trademarks,” filings for new trademarks last year topped 300,000, setting a record buoyed by interest in environmentalism. The previous record was 289,000 filings, set in 2000 during the internet boom.

Now that’s a trend!  Articles about eco-trademarks.

Now… “an interest in environmentalism,” eh? Let me suggest an inconvenient truth: Trademarks are about gelt. That’s what the article quoting Susan is about — the fact that there is (gasp!) no regulation over claims of “greenness” made on the stuff people sell you. As Susan says:

“The law hasn’t caught up with eco or organic, so frankly, it’s still easy to be green,” said Susan Scafidi, a visiting professor at Fordham Law School, who teaches fashion law. “So long as you are not defrauding the consumer, you can say anything, and so long as no one complains, you can do anything.”

Actually, it sounds like the law has caught up pretty well, no? At least until some legislator or interest group finds a way to catch up with it and… “buoy” some governmental “interest.”

Originally posted 2011-05-05 17:33:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ron Coleman

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION blog author Ron Coleman is a member of Dhillon Law Group in their New York City and Montclair, New Jersey offices. He is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and Princeton University.

2 thoughts on “The trendiest of trends”
  1. Good post; I always suspected that was true. Another thing that the law doesn’t address that I tell people about a lot is the term “hypoallergenic.” Absolutely no legal definition or requirements, they could put it on a bag of Doritos if they thought they would sell better. However, I’m actually still surprised to find something that *isn’t* regulated. Anymore it seems that everything a person does or consumes is regulated to the hilt…

  2. I am thinking of starting a “green” law firm. Henceforth, all our legal activities will be conducted with a green philosophy. To wit:

    1. We provide no discovery. Too much paper, kills trees. (For similar reasons, we won’t provide individual objections to discovery. This is your objection.)
    2. Briefs are no longer than 3 pages. See # 1.
    3. Trademark and Patent applications are all handled on line. No office actions — as a green law firm, we are entitled to have our applications granted. Responding leaves too big a carbon footprint.
    4. Complaints are kept to a bare minimum — as in “We’re right, you’re wrong, pay up.” Rule 8 only requires “short and plain” — can’t get any shorter or plainer.
    5. Answers are even shorter –“Denied. Go jump in a lake.”
    6. Legal research is kept to a minimum. Printing out cases is a major tree-killer. (Not to mention highlighter! Do you know what goes in that glowing yellow ink?) Henceforth we will only read the headnotes.
    7. All bills are bumped up by 25%. Green does not come cheap, you know.

    Feel free to come up with your own “green” law firm suggestions.

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