Week In Review: June 25-29

Cybersquatting: Michael Kors
Its been a pretty quiet week in the fashion law world. The biggest story from this week is Michael Kors’ cybersquatting suit. Counterfeiters were setting up sites like Michael-Kors-discount[dot]com (I don’t think this is a real one) to sell their merchandise. The suit is specific to “sale” and “outlet” used in conjunction with Michael Kors. The court has issued a preliminary injunction to stop 35 cybersquatters and counterfeiters from using his name in their web domains. This means cybersquatters are not allowed to use this verbage throughout the trial. And because Kors had to prove the case was likely to succeed in order to receive the preliminary injunction, the cybersquatters have a snowball’s chance in this heatwave of seeing those domain names again.

I think this is a great move. The less official counterfeiters sound, the harder it will be for them to find customers and their customers to find them. This is definitely a move in the right direction. 

Week In Review: June 18-22

Lawsuits: Guess v Gucci

A few weeks ago, Guess lost a major lawsuit to Gucci for infringement on Gucci’s interlocking G logo. The court awarded Gucci $4.66 Million of its requested $120 million and banned Guess from making further knockoffs. The damages were to be split between Marc Fisher, the licensing company responsible for the knockoff Guess footwear, and Guess at $1.9M and $2.3M, respectively. This week, the court ruled that Marc Fisher would be responsible for just under $500K of the $1.9 Million they were originally ordered to pay. Guess of course is happy, Gucci seems to be holding to the idea that the original 1.9 was a calculation error. They seem more concerned with the principle of the mater…. And really, isn’t that what it’s usually about?!??

Read more here.  

Louis Vuitton v. Warner Bros.

I really feel like I should have a separate section called “Fashion Law According to Louis Vuitton.” One section of this blog should read “Louis Vuitton” and the other “Everyone Else.”  Anyway, Louis Vuitton filed suit against Warner Brothers late last year for use of knockoff luggage in the movie “The Hangover: Part II.” Louis Vuitton, in true dramatic fashion, alleged that the short scene damaged the brand’s identity and could confuse consumers. Vuitton wanted the logos altered for the DVD release of the movie and a portion of the profits from the film. *pause.* The case was dismissed.

I’ve never seen the movie but based on my research, this was a joke in the movie. Even without having seen the movie, I can safely say the suit is ridiculous. I ASSURE you, people watching The Hangover are not there for the Louis Vuitton or other knock off, they are there to laugh. This is one of those exercise discretion lawyer moments when you have to realize something is simply not worth it. Now, if this was the first absurd suit I could think of by Vuitton, I would say “hey, we’re all entitled to a few” but given that this is at least the second since I’ve been writing this blog, (See Penn State cease and desist) I’m kind of over it. Seriously guys. We get it. You are policing your mark. You don’t want anyone using it, but y’all might want to chill just a bit. Parody is perfectly allowed under the first amendment. Let it go and go on to something more pressing.

Designer Collabs: Margiela and Narcisso Rodriguez

In the midst of all the H&M/Maison Martin Margiela collab madness, the Kohl’s/Narcisso Rodriguez collab flew RIGHT under the radar. Also, over at your local Kohl’s, Vera Wang’s diffusion line is sliding across the aisle and into the Junior’s department. It seems both companies have the appropriate designers for their respective crowds. I’m not a fanatic for the high-low collabs personally for no other reason than the fanfare that surround them, especially at H&M, but I’m sure both lines will be lovely and swooped up in quick order.

Counterfeit: Hermès

BUSTED!!! A Hermès counterfeit ring in France was busted up this week. The interesting spin on this is that several employees were implicated in the scheme. A couple employees were already fired. It seems Hermès knew of the employees’ shady behavior. This is actually the end of a 1-year investigation after Hermès reported abnormal behavior they had observed on the internal security system. Actually, Hermès had the leg up as they kept the employees there so they could lead the police right to the counterfeiters. It’s the difference between firing 3 people and shutting down an entire ring of deceit and keeping thousands of counterfeit bags off the street.  

Read more here

A New Ménage: Minaj, the Beibs, and Arden

Elizabeth Arden has  purchased Nicki Minaj and Justin Beiber’s fragrance licenses from Give Back Brands. If you’re thinking “who” just like me, that proves this is a good move. With an established company behind them, both fragrances will certainly get a big push, including better advertising which will equate to better sales. Plus, Elizabeth Arden will be able to add a younger demographic and big names to its fragrance catalogue. A win-win-win.
The Beibs and Nicki Minaj also just released new song together. Possibly some cross promotion on its way?!?!? We’ll see. Good move?!?!? Let me know what you think!!! 

Privacy Please: Kenneth Cole Privatizing

Such a curious creature, the public company, especially in fashion. Founders essentially sell their souls, ideas, and in the case of many fashion houses, their name for a short term infusion of income. The income can be massive in some cases. Michael Kors has more than TRIPLED “his” company’s worth since the IPO. Everything is ALL good over there. Right now that is.

But is it worth it? Can you imagine working your whole life to build a company, only for a board of directors, which may or may not consist of terribly creative individuals, to tell you your vision is no longer compatible with… YOUR VISION?!?! And they have every right to carry on your company, with your name… without you. And you have no recourse other than to let them. You may not be able to start another company using your name to earn income to make up for the fact that they just ousted you. And you can be sure there’s a non compete in place that will prevent you from designing at another house for a while. I mean, it just seems so wrong. But its not all that uncommon.

Kenneth Cole is in the process of reversing this very process. The board has just approved him purchasing the majority stake in his company, essentially privatizing the label. I wonder what sparked it and what changes will result. Thoughts?!?!?

Another Louboutin Fail: Louboutin v. Zara

Its not looking good for Louboutin and this red sole trademark. Now a French court is allowing Zara to carry shoes in the red bottom. EEK!!! The court said the 2 were not similar enough, which I actually agree with. The Zara shoe is a very generic, albeit very cute, slingback, peeptoe, red shoe. The Louboutin isn’t the same color (except for the bottom) or shape. That said, I think this is not now nor has it ever been about the likelihood of confusion of the shoes themselves, rather on the color of the bottom of the shoes and what it represents. It’s one thing when YSL is infringing, but ZARA?!??!? No shade to Zara but the two are clearly on opposite ends of the quality, price, and prestige spectrum. I’m very curious to see where Louboutin goes from here. Rebranding perhaps? Only time will tell…

Read more here