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IP Law and the Fashion Industry

Frauds, Fakes, and Counterfeits: Protecting Fashion Goods Online

Developing consumer and industry recognition for a fashion brand takes vision, creativity, and hard work. However, in the fashion industry – as in many industries – success invites comparison and innovation invites knock-offs.  As a fashion brand gains popularity, it will likely be faced with the challenge of protecting its recognizable products from competitors. With the growth of online retail, stemming the tide of counterfeit goods has become a central focus for fashion brands. Often, enforcement attempts require ongoing strategy and litigation is occasionally necessary to preserve a fashion brand’s intellectual property rightsCopyright and Trademark Symbols

Chanel vs. What Goes Around Comes Around

Luxury brands are often key targets for copycat competitors. Chanel recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York against retailer What Goes Around Comes Around, alleging that What Goes Around Comes Around sold fake Chanel items and capitalized on Chanel’s brand. Chanel sought to prevent the online retailer from its use of Chanel’s intellectual property, including its trademarked names and logos. The outcome of the case will influence how courts define permissible use of trademarks, as well as to what extent a retailer must patrol for fake items.

Blocking Unauthorized Online Retailers

As courts in the United States continue to grapple with preventing sales of counterfeit items,  recent European case provides some answers on the issue. Cosmetics company Coty Inc. sought to block retailers from selling its products on online platforms like Amazon and eBay. The European Union’s highest court determined that Coty could legally block the unauthorized sales of its products to online retailers. Similarly, a German high court recently found that a Japanese luxury cosmetics company could limit where its products are sold. The court held that the company could prevent the sale of its products in both brick and mortar and online sites.

Preventing Counterfeiting

If you own a fashion brand, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from counterfeiting online. Registering your brand names and logos can be very beneficial.  You can file for federal registration of your name, trademarks, and logo with the United States government. Securing domain names and social media accounts that correspond to your brand is also helpful. And the benefit of ongoing monitoring cannot be overstated – it is your duty to protect your brand, and monitoring services can help you detect infringement as it happens.  All of these methods of protection require strategy and thought, and you may benefit from consultation with an attorney. Contact an intellectual property attorney for assistance with protecting your legal rights.

Posted in: Intellectual Property