The Intellectual Fashion

Fashion world is known to be fierce.


However, Johanna Blakley during TED talks stated that fashion world is mostly free from the intellectual property litigation.


It’s partially correct, the fashion industry does differ from other industries in its intellectual property rights (IPR) outlook, but it’s not entirely true because IPR litigation appears to be fierce.

On 5th of June 2013, a French footwear designer Christian Louboutin, alleged that a California based Charles Jourdan has supplied retailers in New York, counterfeit versions of its Louboutin’s shoes, which bear the distinctive red soles under its own Charles Jourdan label. Charles Jourdan was not the only designer to get sued for having red sole shoes, US shoe shop ALBA and Yves Saint Laurent were sued too. To trademark a red colour on the sole of shoes does appear to be pushing the boundaries of intellectual property right enforcement.


One of the big battle’s that rages in the industry is between US Polo Association brand and Polo Ralph Lauren.The main point of contention is the use of horse in their trademark logo. I believe that the case is rather complex as Ralph Lauren believes that US Polo association is free riding on their image and brand success. The logo infringements are over so many products that I will spare the details, but let you decide if there is a case of trademark infringement, based on their image aka commercials.

Polo Ralph Lauren was founded in 1967.


US Polo Association (fashion brand) was founded in 1981.


The trendy Dolce & Gabbana hasn’t escaped IPR litigation either, in fact it’s involved in one of most interesting lawsuits. On July 22nd 2013, actor Peter Fonda, star of the 1969 film “Easy Rider,” sued Dolce & Gabbana USA and Nordstrom in California court for $3 million because they improperly profited from advertising and selling men’s T-shirts bearing his image.



Another interesting case of a fashion house involved in a lawsuit with a movie is Louis Vuitton against the film ‘The Hangover’. The laughs were on Louis Vuitton as a judge dismissed that a scene in “The Hangover Part II” involving a counterfeit Louis Vuitton bag did not infringe the luxury brand’s trademark.


Therefore, Johanna Blakley was incorrect to describe fashion industry as an IPR lawsuit free heaven, there seems to be more lawsuits in fashion industry than many others. British fashion house Burberry, was involved in a lawsuit yet again with a film industry over the publicity rights of actor Humphrey Bogart for using a photo of him in a Burberry trench-coat on its social media pages.


It might not be a direct IPR lawsuit, in a sense of one designer copying from another but still an intellectual fashion lawsuit.


Apparently Johanna Blakley also finds a link between fashion and democracy of style.



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