Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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

Branding, Re-branding, and the Legal Implications--

Names are everything in protecting a brand in the market.  This summer, we saw Creative Director Hedi Slimane change the name of Yves Saint Laurent-prized fashion line of its namesake who passed in 2008.  Starting with the Spring-Summer 2013 line, the collection will be referred to as Saint Laurent Paris.  Surely this name change is not one to be compared with Puff Daddy to Diddy (and all the names in between), or Snoop Dogg, to Snoop Lion (no comment), because in music, you will pretty much always be who you were when you debuted.

In fashion and design, this can be much different.  Because of intellectual property issues, like copyright, trademark, and trade dress, design is heavily dependent on branding and naming.  This name change could open up for increased counterfeiting and knockoffs-- and infringers may see this as an opportunity to confuse consumers and cash in.  On the up side, rebranding can also be a way of reinventing and keeping shoppers excited.  
Which do you prefer?  Tradition, or new and trendy?

Maybe pieces bearing the old name and logo will be on sale.  Look alive for potential YSL deals. *Bear in mind, sale prices will be vastly different from the price of a fake!*

Naming is also critical in other areas of commerce, like sports marketing.   We all know Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant as "Durantula", but in the last few months, the name has been in contention because of 1980s guitarist Durantula raising trademark infringement concerns.  Unlike the counterfeiting concerns YSL may find in their name shuffle, this sort of naming concerns the music artist because of confusion.  Mark Durante filed for damages in federal court over the naming rights.  The court will likely find no confusion between an all-star athlete in the sports entertainment field, and a guitarist, who is not quite on the scene as much as he used to be.  We'll watch this one and see what happens.  

You can see how important naming and naming rights are in all types of business, and there's even more twists when the bearer of the name is no longer around.  

Stay tuned for "After the Name is Gone" next week!

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