Tag Archives: law

Peter Fonda Brings Suit for ‘Easy Rider’ Shirts Against Dolce & Gabbana, Nordstrom

dolce-embed_2624893aBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

Italian luxury fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have been caught in a fresh legal bind, this time over their brand’s t-shirts sold by American fashion retailer Nordstrom, also a defendant. The shirts, which were priced at up to $295 apiece, have since been removed from sale on Nordstrom’s website. Actor Peter Fonda is suing for at least $6 million in compensation, claiming that the iconic images of himself in the classic 1969 film, “Easy Rider”, were used without his permission. Movie stills of Fonda on a motorcycle and the movie’s title in its original font are emblazoned on the t-shirts.

Fonda not only co-starred in ‘Easy Rider’ but co-wrote and produced the movie as well, and stated in the suit that he has “suffered injuries to his peace, happiness, feelings, goodwill, reputation, image, loss of fair market values of his services and dilution of his current and future publicity value” due to the illegal usage of his name and images on the merchandise. Although no comment has been obtained as yet from Dolce & Gabbana, Nordstrom has acknowledged it is “aware of the suit and are reaching out to our vendor to determine the next steps.” Whatever the damages the retailer may be forced to pay, the damage to Dolce & Gabbana’s business reputation may be no small thing either.

Although the designers have long been a fixture of Italian high fashion with an internationally famed brand name, in recent years the designing pair has been in the news for tax related legal disputes. Finally this June, Dolce and Gabbana were convicted of tax evasion in an Italian court, although under Italian law their jail sentencing time is too short to require actually going to prison and instead would result in house arrest or community service. The designers have denied the charges, and their lawyer has stated they will appeal. However, as the case has not escaped negative public attention, and in response to what the designers called “attacks from public ministers” and “media pillory”, they closed their Milan store for three days starting last Friday. The store window displayed the phrase “Closed for Indignation”.

However, this current case involving the ‘Easy Rider’ t-shirts seems to be a question of copyright infringement, the commercial use of images that are not in the public domain but are culturally significant and highly recognizable.

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Image: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/article/TMG10196701/Peter-Fonda-sues-Dolce-and-Gabbana-over-Easy-Rider-T-shirts.html

Tory Burch Sues over Counterfeit Jewelry, Gets Countersued

tory burchBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

In a year rife with counterfeit lawsuits filed by Tory Burch to protect her famous TT logo, the designer brand is now faced with a suit itself as the defendant, a New York company Lin & J, recently struck back with a countersuit. Lin & J own a wholesale brand called Isis that sells rings, necklaces, and earrings Tory Burch asserts are counterfeits of the brand’s own jewelry. However, Lin & J deny that the Isis jewelry pieces are copies and that similarities are coincidental. In their counterclaim, Lin & J accuse Tory Burch of copying their design instead. Besides trademark infringement, they are suing the fashion brand for unfair trade practices, tortious interference with its business relationships and defamation.

Tory Burch had sued Lin & J earlier this May after claiming that the company was responsible for selling counterfeits of Tory Burch jewelry to retailers since 2012, but Lin & J claim that their jewelry are original designs based on the Isis, or Coptic, cross, and have been making Cross jewelry for years. The image of the Isis cross has existed for thousands of years, originating from the crosses Coptic Christians carved into the walls of the Temple of Isis, the Egyptian goddess, when they turned the temple into a Christian church. According to Lin & J’s lawyer, “Tory Burch is well aware that my client introduced its ‘Isis Cross’ design over four years ago—long before she introduced her line.”

This argument seems questionable, however, in light of the fact that Tory Burch established her company and brand first as TRB by Tory Burch in 2004. Tory Burch has numerous trademarks registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office using the TT logo, among the earliest filed in September 2003 and registered in December 2005, with first use of commerce in 2004 on fashion goods including clothes, accessories, and jewelry. Meanwhile, Lin & J was started in 2005.

While the Tory Burch trademark bears a close resemblance to some of the Isis jewelry, it is not clear that the likeness is a result of copying on either side, or of coincidence. Based on the immense popularity of Burch’s apparel and accessories however, it seems more plausible that if there was any knocking off going on, it was probably on the part of Lin & J. But seeing as the company is actually countersuing, there may be more than meets the eye in this case.

If you have an extravagant, extraordinary or exclusive product or service in need of legal protection, contact Luxury Law Firm.





Stock image: http://foter.com/f/photo/3912902752/edd29c71fc/

Trademark Suit Settled Between Louboutin and Charles Jourdan

 louboutinBy: Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

Earlier this past June, designer shoe company Christian Louboutin filed a lawsuit in a New York court against Charles Jourdan, also a French shoemaker, for trademark infringement. The unmistakable red lacquered sole is Louboutin’s trademark, over which Louboutin asserted infringement on the part of Jourdan and the retailer DSW for selling red-soled shoes. Accusing the Jourdan shoes of being “counterfeit”, Louboutin also targeted DSW for selling the shoes in Brooklyn and Manhattan stores, stating that Jourdan supplied the retailer with the shoes.

 But in late June, a status conference was held, and according to Louboutin’s lawyer, the three companies came to an “amicable resolution” in settling the case. However, the actual terms cannot be disclosed. This suit involving Charles Jourdan and DSW came to a much quicker conclusion through less dramatic means in comparison to the headlining suit Louboutin filed against yet another French designer, Yves Saint Laurent for the same red sole trademark infringement back in 2011. The New York federal court judge ruled that the trademark, registered in 2008, was too broad to hold up under legal protection and the use of color is too integral to competition in fashion, and declined Louboutin’s demand for preliminary injunction. In September 2012, the suit was brought to court again, and this time, the court recognized Louboutin’s trademark for having “secondary meaning” by way of the contrast between the red sole and a different color on the rest of the shoe. Still, because the YSL shoes in question were entirely red, not just on the soles, the court permitted continuing sale of the shoes.

 Perhaps it was because of this 2012 ruling that the case was comparatively easily settled between Louboutin and Jourdan, since it made clear the defining characteristic of Louboutin’s trademark red sole and recognized it as such. It seems that with enough clout in the fashion industry and longstanding popularity in providing luxury footwear, a designer like Louboutin can successfully trademark a protectable design consisting simply of the juxtaposition of a single color.

 If you have an extravagant, extraordinary or exclusive product or service in need of legal protection, contact AMD LAW’s  Luxury Law Firm.


WWD. (July 16, 2013). Christian Louboutin and Charles Jourdan Settle Suit. Retrieved on July 16, 2013 from http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/louboutin-jourdan-settle-7055229?module=Business-hero

 The New York Times. (September 5, 2012). Shoe Designer Can Protect Its ‘Pop’ of Red’, Court Says. Retrieved on July 16, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/nyregion/court-rules-louboutin-can-enforce-a-trademark-on-its-red-outsoles.html?_r=0

 The New York Times. August 10, 2011). Designer Loses Bid to Protect Signature Shoes. Retrieved on July 16, 2013 from http://runway.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/red-faces-at-louboutin/

 Stock image: http://foter.com/photo/hard-work/

Summary of Fashion Bill

cropped-logos_Lux_Law_Firm-2-11.jpgBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD Law with Summary Provided by Aurelia Mitchell Durant, Esq., AMD LAW

The Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA) introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer in September 2012 was recently passed in Congress, with the purpose of extending copyright protection to fashion designs. Under the bill, articles of apparel such as clothing, handbags, purses, wallets, tote bags, belts and eyeglass frames constitute “useful articles”.

The protection afforded by the IDPA is based not on the previous standard of “substantially similar” but instead, that of “substantially identical”: “So similar in appearance as to be likely to be mistaken for the design, and contain only those differences in construction or design which are merely trivial.” This narrowing of standards takes into account the often inherently derivative quality of fashion design. Also, to be more applicable to the fast-paced, ephemeral nature of the fashion industry, copyright protection for original articles is valid for a three-year term, but is not applied to articles made public more than three years before the date of asserting protection.

Other provisions include barring the consideration of “the presence or absence of a particular color, or pictorial or graphic work imprinted on fabric” in determining copyright protection. The act “modifies infringement criteria for retailers, sellers, importers, or distributors of an infringing article who did not make the article”, and also holds that “it is not infringement to make, have made, import, sell, offer for sale, or distribute any article embodying a design which was created without knowledge, either actual or reasonably inferred from the totality of the circumstances, that a design was protected and was copied from such protected design”. Furthermore, a fashion design is not deemed to be copied if it is not “substantially identical” to a protected design, or if it is “the result of independent creation”.

When owners of a fashion design want to sue for copyright infringement, the IDPA specifies that the owner must provide written notice of the design protection to the supposed infringer. The owner may pursue an action for infringement after the design is made public and after 21 days following the provision of the aforementioned written notice.

For fashion designers, the IDPA might prove to be a significant amendment to the way the legal system treats creative work that fuels the fashion business. Enforceable intellectual property rights in the form of copyrights of fashion designs could conceivably protect the value of artistic fashion articles, and increase the supply and demand of more original designs from the retail to the haute couture level.

If you have an extravagant, extraordinary or exclusive product or service in need of legal protection, contact Luxury Law Firm.



AMD IDPA Summary


Apple May Gain High Fashion Ground with Former Saint Laurent CEO

Paul_DeneveBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

Apple announced last Tuesday that Paul Deneve, who stepped down as CEO of luxury fashion house Saint Laurent to take up his new position, is joining Apple as vice president of “special projects”, the specifics of which are still under wraps. The company stated that Deneve would report directly to its CEO, Tim Cook. In the 1990s, Deneve worked at Apple Europe in sales and marketing, while his distinguished fashion credentials include high level positions at fashion houses Nina Ricci and Lanvin.

This recent move by Apple, following so soon after news of its international efforts to register trademarks for the “iWatch” in numerous countries, has industry watchers speculating that perhaps Deneve will be involved in the design and marketing of the tech company’s rumored impending ‘smart watch’. Putting two and two together, having Deneve on board might signal a push in the direction of ‘wearable technology’ that consumers would actually want to wear, if a high-end pedigree is attached to the high-tech product. This would definitely be in line with Apple’s reputation for their sleek, minimalist style and user-friendly design.

Deneve’s brand of business sense may also help him fit right in with the heads behind Apple, which saw a major turnaround in the 2000s and has since been firmly established as a top player in the tech industry worldwide, especially after the introduction of the iconic iPhone. Last year, the longstanding Yves Saint Laurent name was changed to simply Saint Laurent for YSL’s high fashion line (although the beauty line still retains the ‘Yves’ in its label). The alteration was made under the direction of designer and photographer, Hedi Slimane, as the new creative director, along with a new logo. Deneve was responsible for Slimane’s hiring, and so was instrumental in injecting the brand’s image with a more youthful style. If Deneve will really be part of a smart watch project at Apple, his experience in the fashion business would lend an edge to marketing electronic devices with ready-to-wear appeal.

Crossing technology with fashion historically has not yielded any game-changing results for either industry, but perhaps with the advent of the smart watch or wearable technology in general, creative minds and innovators will find a way to break new ground. In any case, technological advancements and novel designs means even greater significance will be put on intellectual property protection and practices.

If you have an extravagant, extraordinary or exclusive product or service in need of legal protection, contact Luxury Law Firm.


Time. July 3, 2013. Apple Taps Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve As a VP. Retrieved on July 9, 2013 from http://style.time.com/2013/07/03/apple-taps-saint-laurent-ceo-paul-deneve-as-a-vp/

CMS Wire. July 3, 2013. Apple Hires Fashion Guru; World Awaits Next Move. Retrieved on July 9, 2013 from http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/apple-hires-fashion-guru-world-awaits-next-move-021615.php

Image source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Deneve.jpeg