Tag: Fashion

1
Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats
2
Don’t mess with Ferrari: the Prancing Horse legal drama
3
Show me the money: Supreme Court rules that trademark infringers may disgorge profits even if the law was not willfully violated
4
Federal Circuit Upholds TTAB Ruling on Specimens of Use
5
“Three stripes and you’re out!” – The EU General Court rules Adidas’ three stripe trade mark invalid
6
Zara v Zara: The evolving world of “fashion”
7
Fashion & Food Industry Update: More Companies Adopting Blockchain Solutions
8
Fashion Law – December 2018 Edition
9
Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution
10
U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Cheerleader Uniform Elements May Be Eligible for Copyright Protection

Not such a friendly decision for Hugz: A new development in passing off that could help combat fashion copy-cats

On 19 November 2020, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) in the UK handed down its judgment in the case of Freddy SPA v Hugz Clothing Ltd & Ors [2020] EWHC 3032, which ran for an unusually long time for the IPEC (three days).

The decision was a rare occurrence of a passing off claim, together with other IP causes of action, succeeding in the get-up of a functional item, being “bum enhancing jeans”. Ordinarily, such cases, particularly with respect to fashion items, fail as the get-up is seen as merely design elements or ornamental, or the circumstances of the use lead to a conclusion that other trade marks (e.g. brand names and logos) dominate consumer perception.

This case could embolden brand owners in relation to enforcement of the look and feel of their clothing as it creates the possibility of confusion ‘post-sale’ in addition to the point of sale.

Read More

Don’t mess with Ferrari: the Prancing Horse legal drama

Use of Ferrari’s trade mark in a fashion show or on social media requires consent. This is the lesson we assume Philipp Plein has recently learnt following a couple of legal defeats before the Italian Courts that ruled in favour of Ferrari.

In a ruling issued by the Court of Genova last June, the Court ruled in favour of Ferrari for the illegitimate use of Ferrari’s trade marks on Plein’s Instagram account. The designer on that occasion posted several pictures as well as Instagram stories showing some of his clothing line with Ferrari’s trade marks in the background. Ferrari successfully argued that in those shots Philipp Plein was unlawfully appropriating the positive image and reputation of the well-known car company by using its trade marks for promotional purposes.

In another recent case, the Court of Milan ordered Plein to remove from its website, social media, and other online platforms all the videos and images showing Ferrari cars and trade marks. The Court also ordered the payment, in favour of Ferrari, of €300,000 in damages plus legal fees as well as the publication of the decision in two national newspapers. Furthermore, in the event in which that Philipp Plein would not promptly remove the contested images and videos representing Ferrari cars and trade marks, it will have to pay a penalty of €10,000 for each day of delay in the removal of the infringing images and videos. To view the decision, click here.

Read More

Show me the money: Supreme Court rules that trademark infringers may disgorge profits even if the law was not willfully violated

The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that brand owners are not required to prove willful intent before obtaining a defendant’s lost profits. On April 23, 2020, the Supreme Court resolved a longstanding circuit split and unanimously held that trademark infringers may have to hand over their profits even if they did not willfully infringe.

In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc., the Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the rule that a plaintiff can win a profit remedy only after showing a defendant willfully infringed its trademark can be reconciled with the statute’s plain language. Ultimately, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, Romag Fasteners (Romag), holding that:

“[a] plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award.”

Read More

Federal Circuit Upholds TTAB Ruling on Specimens of Use

Part of the trademark registration process is submitting a specimen of the mark as used in commerce (“specimen of use”). Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) upheld the decision of a split Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) panel that refused to register the trademark “CASALANA” for “knit pile fabric made with wool for use as a textile in the manufacture of outerwear, gloves, apparel, and accessories,” stating that Siny Corp. (the applicant) did not submit an acceptable specimen of use. See In Re: Siny Corp. (Fed. Cir. Case. No. 18-1077).

Read More

“Three stripes and you’re out!” – The EU General Court rules Adidas’ three stripe trade mark invalid

On 19 June 2019, the EU General decided a case about the validity of Adidas’ EU trade mark registration for three stripes. In the General Court’s decision (see here), the Court upheld the invalidity of the mark on the basis that: (i) the mark wasn’t used consistently and evidence of reversed/amended versions of the mark was inadmissible; and (ii) Adidas failed to show acquired distinctiveness across the EU, providing admissible evidence for only five EU Member States.

Read More

Zara v Zara: The evolving world of “fashion”

The recent decision in Inditex v EUIPO demonstrates the far reaching, evolving nature of fashion brands and the markets they can operate in and are expanding into.

In this case, Inditex (one of the world’s largest fashion retailers and owner of the fashion brand Zara) appealed the EUIPO’s decision to grant registration of the ‘Zara Tanzania Adventures’ mark in classes 39 (travel and tourism) and 43 (travel agency services). The appeal was based on the registration of its own ‘Zara’ mark in class 39. But how can a fashion brand object to a mark in the travel sector?

Read More

Fashion & Food Industry Update: More Companies Adopting Blockchain Solutions

While still an emerging technology, more companies are implementing blockchain technology to manage supply chains, track goods, prevent counterfeiting, increase security, and ensure traceability. In a recent survey of global leaders, by auditing and financial services company KPMG, 48% of respondents stated they believe it is highly likely that blockchain will change the way their companies do business over the next three years, and 41% stated their company intends to implement blockchain technology during the next three years.

Read More

Fashion Law – December 2018 Edition

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” – Harry Winston

Welcome to the latest edition of Fashion Law. In this edition we review the Australian Government’s measures to tackle modern slavery, a New Zealand trade mark opposition highlighting the importance of trade mark watching services, superannuation payments for full time, part time or casual workers, protecting brands in international markets, and the changes to parallel importation laws.

Read More

Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution

Louis Vuitton recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit ruling that certain handbags are fair-use parodies of Louis Vuitton products, and therefore do not give rise to liability for trademark dilution by blurring. In its petition, Louis Vuitton contends there is a split of authority between the Second and Fourth Circuits regarding parody as a fair-use defense to dilution.

Louis Vuitton is the owner of famous trademarks “that immediately bring… to mind Louis Vuitton as the sole source of handbags and other stylish, high-quality goods bearing its marks.” My Other Bag, Inc. offers handbags with images of Louis Vuitton’s famous marks reproduced on one side, and the phrase “My other bag” inscribed on the back.

Read More

U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Cheerleader Uniform Elements May Be Eligible for Copyright Protection

Yesterday, in a decision that will be welcomed by the fashion industry, the United States Supreme Court ruled that certain design elements of cheerleader uniforms may be eligible for copyright protection.  Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.  The Court held that, “a feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection only if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work—either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression—if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.”  Justice Clarence Thomas authored the 6-2 majority opinion, addressing disagreement among lower courts as to the proper test for determining if certain design elements could ever qualify for copyright protection.

This case involved lines, chevrons, and colorful shapes on cheerleader uniforms. In finding that these elements could be covered by copyright, the appeals court below had identified nine different approaches that various courts and the Copyright Office had employed over the years to address “separability.” The appeals court fashioned its own test and found that the design features of Varsity Brands’ cheerleader uniform played no role in the overall function of the article as a cheerleading uniform, and the elements were separable from the utilitarian aspects of the uniform and thus eligible for copyright protection.

The Supreme Court affirmed.  Applying § 101 of the Copyright Act, the Court found that the decorations on the uniforms at issue could be identified as having pictorial, graphic, or sculptural qualities, and the arrangement of the decorations could be placed in another medium (e.g. placed on a painter’s canvas) without replicating the uniforms themselves.  Thus, the two-dimensional work of art fixed in the uniform fabric met both the separate-identification and independent-existence requirements of the statute. Importantly, the Court held only that the uniform elements are eligible for protection in concept; now the trial court must determine whether Varsity Brands’ specific lines, chevrons, and shapes are original enough to merit copyright protection.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurred in the result, pointing out that the Court did not have to discuss the separability test at all because the designs at issue were not themselves useful articles, but rather standalone, two-dimensional pictorial and graphic works reproduced on a useful article.  Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, dissented, arguing that even under the majority’s test, the designs cannot be perceived as separate from the cheerleading uniform.

Thus, although the majority offers some clarity about the proper approach to separability, the dissent demonstrates that analysis may yield divergent results.  The decision is likely to be embraced by fashion industry leaders and other garment design stakeholders for its recognition that certain garment design elements may be protectable under the Copyright Act.  K&L Gates will continue to monitor litigation in this area and provide updates.

A link to the opinion can be found here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-866_0971.pdf

By: David Byer, John Cotter, Shamus Hyland and Eric Lee

Copyright © 2020, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.