Rihanna Comes Out on Top in Topshop T-shirt Suit

rihanna-topshop-t-shirt-650-430By Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

Earlier this year, pop star Rihanna brought an infringement case against Arcadia Group Brands Ltd., the parent company of British fashion retailer Topshop over its sales of t-shirts bearing an image of her that was use without permission. The image is derived from an unofficial photograph taken during the shooting of her “We Found Love” music video in 2011. The the singer is suing for $5 million in damages. On Wednesday, July 31, the High Court in London found Topshop guilty of “passing off” in selling the garments, with Justice Colin Birss ruling that consumers were probably deceived into thinking the singer authorized the sale of the t-shirts.

The history of celebrities suing over the unauthorized use of their images on merchandise for the most part has not been a successful one despite the frequency of such occurrences (see the Peter Fonda, Dolce & Gabbana Easy Rider t-shirt case), so Rihanna’s won case may provide precedent for similar disputes in the future. However, her case has been analyzed and characterized as driven very much by the facts and specifics of its context. As the justice noted, there is “no such thing as a general right by a famous person to use control the reproduction of their image”, and besides, the image rights would have belonged to the photographer who took the photo. Additionally, the issue of trademark does not come into play since Rihanna’s name was only used in association with the t-shirt briefly before the marketing name of the shirt was changed from the “Rihanna Tank” to the “Headscarf Girl Tank” and “Icon Tank” following the artist’s initial complaints.

To count as “passing off”, three criteria must be met: goodwill, a reputation established by the plaintiff; misrepresentation, the defendant having had deceived the public through its actions; and damage, the financial harm of the alleged wrongdoing. Rihanna undeniably has made a global name for herself in music and pop culture. Furthermore, her style is distinctive and recognizable, placing her under fashion’s radar even as she herself sets foot into the industry, designing a fashion line at rival retailer River Island. This fact of her own foray into fashion aided her in the judgment of the case, as Justice Birss said the Topshop t-shirts result in loss of control over Rihanna’s reputation in the fashion industry. Significantly for her suit, the justice decided there was misrepresentation involved. Topshop also has an international reputation as opposed to the common street vendor hawking unofficial merchandise, and selling a shirt with Rihanna’s face on it deceives customers into buying it under the false belief that the singer approved the clothing’s sale. Although Topshop may not be guilty of purposefully misleading buyers, the effect of the public being misled is what matters legally. Justice Birss did not make an assessment of the damages in his ruling and according to BBC, there might be another hearing deciding damages.

Many of the specifics in the context of the case were taken into consideration in the final ruling, ultimately allowing for one in Rihanna’s favor. Her reputation as an artist, a style icon with her own clothing line, and Topshop’s reputation were major factors. Finally, the particular image itself also strengthened Rihanna’s case. The t-shirt features a shot of Rihanna from the chest up in costume for part of her music video, which her lawyers said was “very similar” to images used on one of her album’s CD sleeves, suggesting that it could be perceived to have a commercial aspect even though the singer did not permit the image’s use in selling the shirts. Topshop responded saying “there was no intention to create an appearance of an endorsement or promotion” and that “we do not believe it conveyed any false message to our customers.” The retailer is considering an appeal.

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

Sources:

The Lawyer. (August 1, 2013). “Rihanna crops Topshop.” Retrieved on August 1, 2013 from http://www.thelawyer.com/analysis/opinion/rihanna-crops-topshop/3008146.article

Entertainment Weekly. (August 1, 2013). “Rihanna wins case against Topshop.” Retrieved on August 1, 2013 from http://music-mix.ew.com/2013/08/01/rihanna-topshop/

BBC. (July 31, 2013). “Rihanna wins Topshop T-shirt court case.” Retrieved on August 1, 2013 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23514738

The Guardian. (July 31, 2013). “How Rihanna stopped Topshop selling a t-shirt with her face on.” Retrieved on August 1, 2013 from http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2013/jul/31/rihanna-topshop-t-shirt-face

Image Credit: http://us.topshop.com/?geoip=home

 

Updating Copyright from Tech’s Perspective

cropped-logos_Lux_Law_Firm-2-11.jpgBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

Last week, Congress heard from leaders in various industries that provide creative, copyrighted content, such as businesses in film, music and photography. This Thursday on August 1, the same House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet listened to five technology companies present their assessments and opinions of the role of technology in innovation. In contrast with last week’s overarching push for stronger copyright protection, tech representatives advocated open source, and critiqued aspects of current copyright law. Notable speakers include IT hosting company Rackspace’s VP of Intellectual Property Van Lindberg and electronics retailer Sparkfun CEO Nathan Seidle.

In Lindberg’s testimony before the subcommittee, he raised the issue of the susceptibility of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to abuse, especially by automated DMCA takedown requests executed by computer system programs designed to recognize copyrighted content. Lindberg brought to the subcommittee’s attention that this kind of computer program may recognize that certain content is copyrighted, but not that the content does not infringe with the permission of holders, leading to abuse of the fair intentions of the DMCA. He also cites purposeful filings of DMCA takedown requests, many of which aren’t copyright claims but are the actions of businesses against their competitors, resulting in unfair competition and impeding free speech.

Online infringement may be hard to prevent, but even discerning real infringement from fake is also daunting. Google’s most recent report indicates over 15 million URLs have been subject to takedown requests, and the company says it takes down 97% of requests. Twitter has also been receiving an influx of takedown requests, with statistics showing a 76% increase over the 6-month period beginning this year January 1, though it takes down 61% of requests. Finally, the copyright case between giant media company Viacom and Youtube, a Google subsidiary, demonstrates how the DMCA has been used in courts; Viacom’s lawsuit against Youtube has failed twice already in the past 7 seven years. The main issue is proving Youtube’s actual knowledge of infringing content on its video-sharing website. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled in April that Youtube is protected under the DMCA, specifically section 512(c) of the act which provides safe harbor for websites under several conditions, including if the service provider expeditiously removes infringing material upon knowledge or awareness of it.

Viacom applied to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on July 26 for the remanding of a different judge to preside over the case. In their appellate brief, Viacom attacks the assertion that lacking proof for “clip-by-clip assessment of actual knowledge” according to Judge Stanton renders their suit dismissible, stating that when “the service provider deliberately avoids learning the location of specific infringing Daily Show clips [for example], then under the [judge]’s reading the service provider is not willfully blind.” Instead, this “deliberate ignorance” Viacom points to is, in the company’s opinion, deserving of trial.

Adjudicating what constitutes sufficient legitimate evidence of copyright infringement in this tech era is a problematic area, seeing as excessive takedowns currently coexist with the persistence of copyright violating content online. A different tack in addressing copyright has been offered by tech industry representatives. From the tech forum before Congress, Nathan Seidle of Sparkfun explicated the benefits of open source engineering, while Lindberg  promoted open source technology, the underlying idea being that open source creates jobs, business, and drives innovation—things copyright protection has always claimed to do.

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

Sources:

The Hollywood Reporter. (July 30, 2013). “Viacom Demands New Judge in Youtube Copyright Fight.” Retrieved on August 2, 2013 from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/viacom-demands-new-judge-youtube-595471

The Hollywood Reporter. (April 18, 2013). “Youtube Again Beats Viacom’s Massive Copyright Infringement Lawsuit.” Retrieved on August 2, 2013 from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/youtube-again-beats-viacoms-massive-442233

GigaOM. (August 2, 2013). “Rackspace helps school Congress on copyright and open source.” Retrieved on August 2, 2013 from http://gigaom.com/2013/08/02/rackspace-helps-school-congress-on-copyright-and-open-source/

 

Pink Clashes with PINK

Victoria's Secret London Bond Street storeBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

British luxury shirt retailer Thomas Pink filed an infringement action against the UK branch of American lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret with the Patents County Court in London back in May. Thomas Pink alleges that the Victoria’s Secret PINK line, designed to target the younger crowd of teens to twenty-somethings, confuses customers by marketing and selling products under the label “PINK”, which is also a name under the Thomas Pink brand.

What seems more confusing is the basis of the supposed infringement, as the two companies specialize in different kinds of apparel (Thomas Pink is known primarily for its men’s dress shirts, although the retailer sells clothes for women as well, while Victoria’s Secret is famous for its underwear, loungewear, and beauty products geared towards women). Furthermore, Victoria’s Secret PINK was established in 2001 in the US, and reportedly both companies have known and previously communicated about their common usage of the word “pink” since 2005. Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977, and Thomas Pink in 1984.

Maybe the location of the first two Victoria’s Secret stand-alone stores in London that opened last year is perceived to be threatening by Thomas Pink to its business. According to a Thomas Pink spokesperson, “Thomas Pink is determined to protect the considerable investment that has been made into building the world’s luxury leading shirt brand.” The brand has an international presence with stores in many countries besides the UK, including France, the US, the UAE, Australia, South Africa and China.

Understandably, Victoria’s Secret is keen to protect itself on its home turf in light of the legal trouble abroad. The lingerie brand filed for a declaratory judgment lawsuit in an Ohio district court last week on July 24. Victoria’s Secret is seeking a declaration from the court stating that Victoria’s Secret PINK does not infringe on Thomas Pink; under federal law, such a declaration would have the force and effect of a final judgment or decree. In their filing, Victoria’s Secret note the disparity between the two companies’ product types—shirts versus bras, to be reductive—and maintain that there has been no evidence as yet of consumer confusion. Victoria’s Secret hopes a declaration will establish “the rights of the parties, allowing them to continue the peaceful coexistence that has been in place for many years.”

Damage control by way of a declaratory judgment lawsuit in the US is a swift move on the part of Victoria’s Secret. As for the infringement case in the UK, it’s still up in the air what the outcome may be. However, seeing as both brands are quite well vested in the fashion industry albeit on different sides, one being tailored to luxury and the other more commercial, it can be expected the two companies will firmly stand their respective grounds in the proceedings to come.

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

Sources:

Vogue UK. (July 29, 2013). Victoria’s Secret vs Thomas Pink. Retrieved on July 30, 2013 from http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2013/07/29/thomas-pink-files-infringement-case-against-victorias-secret-pink

The Huffington Post. (July 29, 2013). Thomas Pink, Victoria’s Secret Tussle Over ‘Pink’ In Legal Filings. Retrieved on July 30, 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/thomas-pink-victorias-secret_n_3670433.html

Stock image: http://foter.com/f/photo/7889118074/2b0e123ed3/ Victoria’s Secret London New Bond Street

Making a Case for Modern-day Copyright in Court and in Congress

cropped-logos_Lux_Law_Firm-2-11.jpgBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

This week, copyright issues received considerable federal attention both in the Ninth Circuit of the US Courts of Appeals on Wednesday and in a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives’ House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on Thursday. While the court ruled that digital video recorders that automatically skip commercials are permissible under copyright law in Fox v. Dish, the House’s subcommittee held the first of two scheduled hearings during which representatives from various media and entertainment industries called on Congress to bolster copyright protection.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the precedent of the 1984 Supreme Court case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. was invoked to uphold the existence and usage of satellite company Dish’s digital video recorder, the Hopper, presumably thus named for its Auto-Hop feature that automatically skips all the ads of a recorded show. Additionally, the Hopper can automatically record all the prime-time shows on television networks Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC through its Prime Time Anytime feature. With regards to the ad-skipping feature, the court said that because it didn’t entail making copies of Fox’s content, copyright issues weren’t raised. The Sony case already permitted the recording of television shows for time shifting under copyright’s fair use doctrine (at that time the product in contention was Sony’s Betamax VCR). As for the Prime Time Anytime feature, the same fair use principle from Sony’s ruling was applied.

Besides copyright infringement claims, Fox also accused Dish of violating their distribution contract. Judge Sidney Thomas was ultimately not swayed by this particular stance although he seemed to put more stock in it than in the argument for Dish’s copyright liability. As Wednesday’s ruling was the second time the court declined to issue an injunction against Dish, the case may go to trial. Fox said they would “review all of our options”, while Dish stated the court’s decision was “a victory for American consumers” involving “the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.”

On the Congressional side, representatives from the music, photography, and film industries presented their views to the subcommittee members the current copyright climate, the significance of strong copyrights for industry and the marketplace, for innovation and creativity and economic profit. The House’s hearing included a viewing of 3-D video showing the process of making a Star Trek film segment. Issues such as online copyright infringement and piracy were brought up. For one of the participants, executive director of the American Society of Media Photographers Eugene Mopsik, fair compensation and fair use expansion are the biggest problems for his group. The representatives also emphasized that tech companies are their partners in content creation and distribution, not opponents, and copyright reform would be advantageous for all parties. The subcommittee is to hold a hearing with representatives from the tech industry next week.

In the modern landscape of technology, Internet use and growing intangible assets in intellectual property for industries that run on making and marketing creative content, it is interesting to see the tension between handling copyright issues in court case by case—in this instance supporting a previous expansion of fair use—and dealing with copyright matters legislatively, in Congress. This week’s events reflect the legal system’s complex state in this day and age where copyright, and by extension intellectual property is concerned.

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

Sources:

The New York Times. (July 24, 2013). Court Upholds Ruling on Dish Network’s ‘Hopper’. Retrieved on July 27, 2013 from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/business/media/court-upholds-ruling-on-dish-networks-hopper.html?_r=0

The Washing Post. (July 24, 2013). Court says skipping ads doesn’t violate copyright. That’s a big deal. Retrieved on July 27, 2013 from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/24/court-says-skipping-ads-doesnt-violate-copyright-thats-a-big-deal/

Corporate Counsel. July 25, 2013. Congress Hears Please for Stronger Copyright Protections. Retrieved on July 27, 2013 from http://www.law.com/corporatecounsel/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202612419216&Congress_Hears_Pleas_for_Stronger_Copyright_Protections&slreturn=20130627193406

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.

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

 

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/peter-fonda-sues-dolce-gabbana-nordstrom-easy-rider-shirts-article-1.1407022

http://style.time.com/2013/07/23/peter-fonda-sues-dolce-gabbana-nordstrom-over-easy-rider-t-shirts/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/dolce-gabbana-shut-shop_n_3624103.html?utm_hp_ref=style&ir=Style

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323893504578555381442663340.html

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.

Sources:

 http://racked.com/archives/2013/07/24/post-11.php

http://www.wwd.com/business-news/legal/tory-burch-fights-jewelry-counterfeiters-in-court-6961693?module=hp-topstories

 

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

3D Printers Add a New Dimension to Fashion

3d printerBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

 

In the wake of the latest push in Congress to reform copyright law for the inclusion of fashion designs through the Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA) of 2012, this year has shown a more tangible revolution in fashion in the form of 3D printing. 3D printers are the apparatuses used in additive manufacturing, a method that constructs three dimensional solid products modeled on a digital Computer Aided Design (CAD) file by successively layering materials to the completion of an object. Traditionally, 3D printers have been used in manufacturing for prototyping, but with the process becoming less expensive, creating end products with 3D printers is now a viable option. Many in the know have already considered the impact 3D will have on myriad industries, from bioprinters in medicine to architecture and construction, and even fashion.

 

The fashion industry this year has seen 3D printing start to strut its stuff, as designers use the technology to innovatively create wearable and visually stimulating designs. In March, the first fully articulated 3D printed dress designed by Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitoni was worn by Dita Von Teese, a sculptural and form-fitting piece of black nylon and decorated with Swarovski crystals. 3D printing company Shapeways, based in New York, printed the dress, and hopes to delve further into fashion with 3D printing. A Belgian printing company, Materialise, worked with Malaysian fashion designer Melinda Looi and Malaysia held the first 3D printed fashion show in June. This July at Paris Fashion Week, designers Iris van Herpen and Rem D Koolhaas presented on the runway 12 pairs of shoes printed by 3D printer manufacturing company Stratatys. The unique shoe designs vividly evoked their inspiration from the look of tree roots, and are composed of Stratatys’s rigid opaque black and white materials that boast a glossy finish. In the future, increasing affordability of the technology and the invention or application of more wearer-friendly materials could firmly embed 3D printing into the fashion industry. For the present, some designers believe 3D printing is mostly relevant to conceptual design.

 

While 3D printers are opening up a new creative avenue for designers and makers of fashion apparel, as with publishing and the music business in which copyright is a substantial legal issue, 3D printing could pose various legal problems as well. With fashion designs being protectable by copyright, widespread copyright infringement can be enabled by 3D printers for consumers at the level of personal use. As far as industry experts can tell for now, there isn’t any long-term impediment to allowing the advancement of 3D printer technology to become normatively available to individuals, and not just manufacturers. Digital designs, like digital music files and e-books, could be uploaded, shared, and downloaded illegally. In the process of 3D printing fashion apparel, these designs can be customized and altered, in which case the lines of original design and ownership become blurred.  Even if fashion design becomes sellable in this way, other legal concerns to consider are quality control and the responsibility for it, as well as authenticity, which can become questionable as the design is passed down from creator to consumer to printer, and counterfeiting in turn is made much easier.

 

3D printing has the potential to drastically change the face of fashion in terms of creative design, copyright and brand protection, and manufacturing and selling. With the introduction of 3D printers into the fashion industry, business as usual may no longer be feasible and adapting to the avant-garde novelties such technology presents will have to follow at many levels of the industry. The prospects could be exciting, but also dangerous, and unpredictable. If 3D printers really take off, movers and shakers in fashion would do well to continue keeping an eye out for changes here and to come.

 

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

 

Sources:

 

http://fashionista.com/2013/07/how-3-d-printing-could-change-the-fashion-industry-for-better-and-for-worse/

 

http://www.psfk.com/2013/07/3d-printed-fashion-show.html

 

http://investors.stratasys.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=775029

 

http://www.3dprinter.net/reference/what-is-3d-printing

 

http://gizmodo.com/5989204/dita-von-teese-flaunts-the-first-3d+printed-dress-you-might-actually-own-someday

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-23378218

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/19/rihanna-topshop-sues-t-shirt_n_3623382.html

 

http://fashionista.com/2013/07/how-3-d-printing-could-change-the-fashion-industry-for-better-and-for-worse/2/

 

http://www.psfk.com/2013/07/3d-printed-fashion-show.html

 

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2013/07/iris-van-herpens-shoes-are-to-die-for/

 

http://www.cio.com.au/slideshow/521062/pictures_makerbot_couture_3d-printed_fashion_hits_runway/

 

http://jewishbusinessnews.com/2013/07/03/stratasys-unveils-3d-printed-shoes-at-paris-fashion-show/

 

http://www.assemblymag.com/articles/91382-does-3d-printing-have-a-future

 

 Stock image: http://foter.com/f/photo/5002933717/b20d264569/

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Sources:

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/

Michael Kors v. Costco: Bait-and-Switch Trademark Lawsuit

costcoBy: Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

On last Friday in a Manhattan federal court, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., the company behind the popular luxury goods of American fashion designer Michael Kors, sued Costco Wholesale Corp. for recent false advertising of Michael Kors handbags. One example cited in the filed complaint was an email Costco sent out in April advertising handbags “starting at $99.99”. The ad implied some of the handbags included Michael Kors bags, showing the products with the brand’s trademarks visible on the handbags in the ad. The luxury company called it a “bait-and-switch” scheme in the federal lawsuit, and asserted that Costco is not an authorized retailer of Michael Kors handbags.

Michael KorsMichael Kors is reportedly seeking a court order to prevent further advertising of its items by Costco. Additionally, profits and punitive damages as a result of the contested ads are being sought. Costco does not sell Michael Kors bags either in retail stores or online, and the misleading pricing is a far cry from the high end prices seen on the Michael Kors website, ranging from $298 to $1195.

This is the second suit Costco has faced for apparent false advertising capitalizing on luxury brands’ trademarks, as Tiffany & Co. sued Costco last February for using its trademarks in online ads (as well as in an display case). Trademark infringement, especially coupled with significant price differences and involving recognized business names, could be used to dupe customers, but also have the effects of besmearing business reputations and diluting legitimate intellectual property power. It remains to be seen whether the Michael Kors v. Costco case will end in a settlement or go to court. If you have an extravagant, extraordinary or exclusive product or service in need of legal protection, contact Luxury Law Firm.

Sources:

Daily Finance. (July 12, 2013). “Costco Slapped with Lawsuit from Michael Kors.” Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/07/12/costco-slapped-with-lawsuit-from-michael-kors/

Global Post. (July 12, 2013). “Michael Kors sues Costco for false advertising.” Retrieved on July 13, 2013 from http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130712/michael-kors-sues-costco-false-advertising

Image Credits:  Costco: www.costco.com; Michael Kors: Photo: Ed Kavishe, Fashion Wire Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New European Cosmetics Regulation Streamlines Beauty Labeling

cosmeticsBy Caroline Lau, Staff Writer, AMD LAW

The European Commission of the European Union passed a law that will improve the safety and advertising standards of beauty products. According to a spokesman for the Commission’s department of health and consumers, the Cosmetics Regulation will serve to resolve “ambiguities that may occur among member states” regarding the laws and policies for cosmetics labeling. Legislation for the law has been in the works for three years, now supplanting the previous Cosmetics Directive and effective July 11, 2013.

One of the provisions is that the contact information of “responsible persons” in charge of the product’s compliance with health, safety, and consumer information regulations must be provided on the labels of each product on the market. In addition, the responsible person is required to “maintain a product information file accessible to public authorities.” Safety evaluation will be undertaken by a centralized European electronic notification system that should have all items sold on file.

More stringent measures as to the safety of the substances used in the products are also in place. Of especial concern are nano-materials, which are materials containing particles with features and properties based on the particles’ size at the nano-scale. The new law stipulates that the nano-materials be legally authorized for use, and that the word ‘nano’ appear on the labeled list of ingredients in brackets. While nano-materials have been utilized in cosmetics manufacturing for years, the legislation is meant to help keep consumers better informed.

Besides unifying labeling practices across European member states, the Cosmetics Regulation also positively affects the integrity of beauty marketing and advertising, including the usage of “texts, names, trademarks, pictures and figurative or other signs” linked to the products. Such labels and representations of the product must meet the requirements of “legal compliance, truthfulness, support, honesty, fairness and informed decision making”.

For those involved in the beauty industry with connections to the European market and businesses, the Cosmetics Regulation will foreseeably prove beneficial not only to the consumer base but also to cosmetics companies that will experience higher efficiency as a result of the legislation’s specified centralized system and standardization for stronger quality control of cosmetics.

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

 

Sources:

Telegraph.co.uk. July 10, 2013. “New labeling laws for beauty products.” Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/article/TMG10171734/New-labelling-laws-for-beauty-products.html

Europa. February 18, 2010. “Cosmetic products (from 2013).” Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/product_labelling_and_packaging/co0013_en.htm

Stock image: http://foter.com/photo/parallels-and-price-of-beauty/