The Emergence of Fashion Law

I love fashion as is evident by my previous posts. I am also in my 3rd year of law school. My hope is to combine my love of fashion with my legal education and experience in my forthcoming career in fashion law! I decided to explore some of these new fashion law issues in my blog along with my posts about food, fun and fashion!

Fashion law is a pretty new area of law because there really isn’t much protection for designers. Copyright law doesn’t protect clothing designs because clothing is seen as a useful article which is not eligible for copyright protection. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, CFDA, have been trying to get a bill passed that will extend copyright protection to clothing designs, but have encountered some problems. This lack of protection for designers and brands, however, hasn’t prevented them from taking legal action against other brands that they feel have taken their designs. Forever 21 is one of the most litigated against companies for allegedly copying designs of high end collections.

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John Varvatos v. Forever 21

source: nymag.com

 

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Jeffrey Campbell v. Forever 21

source: iptrademarkattorney.com

Many argue that copying is a necessary evil for the industry to survive because even the designers and creative directors of the high end collections use past collections and designs as inspirations for their newest collections. But, there is a difference between copying exactly a piece from a collection or using past styles and trend as inspiration.

 

While there is a lack of copyright protection, there is trademark protection available. This however really only covers logos, trademarks and prints. However, recently Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement for a collection of YSL shoes where the soles matched the color of the shoe, stating that the red shoe with the red sole is an infringement of Louboutin’s trademark rights. After going through the district court, where the court said that Louboutin did not have a valid trademark over the red sole, the appellate court determined that Louboutin did in fact of a valid trademark over the red sole, because they had created a secondary meaning in the mind of the consumer, which means that the consumer associated red soles with Louboutin. However, the appellate court stated that if another brand or designer creates a collection of shoes wear the color of the shoe matches the color of the sole and there is a red shoe with a red sole, this is not an infringement. This is a pretty landmark case, extending trademark rights to colors.

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These and other issues in fashion law that come up in the industry are things that I will discuss!!

 

Beeta J.

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