Wednesday, January 28, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Fashion Law and the Local Economy--

Fashion law is in fact taking over the globe.  But, its impact is local in nature, too.  Despite there being an ongoing battle for protection of fashion designs at the national level in the U.S., many large cities, are doing their part to protect brands as well as their local economies.


While fashion trends change almost faster than the seasons, brands are made to last forever.  Creators set out to achieve longevity.  In recent years, there have been a number of efforts to curb harm to brands.  Whether it be through the sale of fakes, thereby infringing on trademarks, or even penalizing the consumers of fakes, local governments are taking no prisoners in preserving the integrity of fashion.

What's been happening?!

  • Both coasts are equipped with amazing fashion law programs to help train upcoming lawyers in this billion-dollar industry.  The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham and the Fashion Law Project at Loyola dig deeply into fashion law issues.  Being in the garment districts of the nation's 2 largest cities doesn't hurt either.
  • In 2011, the New York City Bar Association established a fashion law committee.  Many bar associations across the country have held symposiums on the topic since then.  
  • In 2013, NY Councilwoman Margaret Chin introduced an ordinance to penalize counterfeit purchasers.  It's not far-fetched--Italy, France, and England all penalize consumers for purchasing fakes.  The NYC measure didn't pass, but it definitely got the attention of counterfeiters and the impact tax avoidance has on the local economy.  She introduces a subsequent effort to prohibit the storage or sale of fake goods in any NYC building.  She's not giving up on this. 
  • Chicago makes necessary use of its Trademark Violation Ordinance, which revokes the business licenses of retailers possessing and selling counterfeits.  O'Hare Airport, recently named the busiest in the U.S. has uncovered millions in fakes at their international gates as well.  
  • North Carolina isn't playing any games either.  The Secretary of State's office led police throughout NC on Operation Faux Pas, seizing more than $12million in fakes across the state.  


What's set to happen next?
Local governments are pressed to keep up the services they've been able to provide.  We need smooth streets and snow plowed, right?  Losing out on tax revenue is no help. Locales with counterfeit districts, like Canal St. in NYC are watching for dealers who skimp residents of their service money and are issuing penalties left and right.  Cities with flea markets are heavily watching the products coming through their borders, too.  Many large flea markets have been the scene of busts when local or federal authorities uncover fakes sold by vendors.  

Surely fashion industry leaders like Susan Scafidi and Diane von Furstenberg will continue working with the CFDA on federal legislation as well.  

We'll continue watching the counterfeit scene.  You should do the same.  Fakes are never in fashion.  




Monday, January 26, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

The Latest in Fashion Law: News & Updates--

A lot has been going on in fashion law lately, so we want to make sure you're up to speed.  Here's the latest:

Ralph Lauren forced to destroy knockoffs
In October, Converse sued a bunch of designers who infringed on their famous Chuck Taylor shoe.  Now, as part of their settlement, RL has decided to destroy their 36 infringing styles, along with all molds and materials used to make them.  Trademark protection is everything.  Even big brands get caught up in it.

Seahawks are protecting their fans
Just in time for the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks are working to trademark the number "12" and "boom".  After successfully registering "Legion of Boom", efforts to secure "12th man"and just the number "12" in jersey font have proven a bit more difficult because of marks already in use.  The Seahawks aren't giving up, though.  They're working to find as much specificity as possible to protect what's pushed them to their 2nd Super Bowl in 2 years.  Good luck!

Federal Agents Seize Super Bowl Fakes
While Seattle is trying to protect their brand, the NFL is working to do the same for theirs.  Just this past weekend, near Phoenix, about $1million in knockoff NFL merchandise was seized by the feds.  Merchandise included watches, other jewelry, and even flasks.  Yikes.

"Faking It" exhibit continues at FIT
New York's Fashion Institute of Technology recently launched an exhibit in their museum examining the history of copying, both authorized and unauthorized, as the $600billion counterfeit industry continues to threaten designers.  Faking It: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits displays genuine and copied items from designers like Louis Vuitton and Coco Chanel--2 designers who have actually stood on opposite sides of the issue.  Following Charles Fredrick Worth's debut of a label in his designs in 1903, brands like Louis Vuitton have worked tirelessly to protect themselves against fakes.  Meanwhile Madam Chanel once said "One should not bother to protect that which dies the minute it is born".  Is she right?

Afternoon Dress by Charles Fredrick Worth (1903)

Patrons of the exhibit get to check out bags, suits, dresses and more, all while comparing the real to the fake.  A little fashion law history is laid out as well.  The exhibit lasts until April 25th.  

Louis Vuitton and Google partner to fight fakes
Continuing their quest to forever protect their well-known brand, LVMH is now working with Google to keep the conglomerate safe on the internet.  After filing many lawsuits against Google for harboring ads and sales of infringing merchandise, the 2 major brands have signed a cooperation agreement, promising to end their legal dispute.  The deal provides for each side to combine their resources to keep counterfeit LV items from being marketed and sold via the internet giant.  

Is this the start of stronger crackdowns?  Let's keep watching.


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