New Years means a fresh start and an undeniable sense of excitement on what the upcoming year has to offer. We all know that 2016 was far from uneventful in regards to multiple disciplines. But, as we get ready to start the year, we thought a good start would be a quick refresher on the events that really caught our attention in IP law in relation to fashion. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please feel free to comment below to share what was most interesting to you. We are always up for interesting legal discussions and we love to get your opinion!
1. Ivanka Trump became engaged in a copyright infringement battle with Aquazzura because she allegedly copied the famous shoe designer’s “Wild Thing”sandal. Unfortunately for Aquazurra, this design seems to “inspire” many, because they have also been ripped off by 19 other brands, including Steve Madden, Express, Banana Republic, Boohoo, Matiko, Charlotte Russe. We look forward to seeing how Aquazurra deals with these other infringements in the new year.
2. Christian Louboutin‘s red sole trademark was denied by the Swiss Court. Although the French fashion house has been in an ongoing discussion to ask the Swiss court to grant the designer a trademark for its famous red soles on and off since 2010, this time, the label was denied because the red roles were ruled to be a mere decoration rather than a brand, making it ineligible for a trademark.
3. Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent‘s former creative director, took the Kering Group, the label’s parent company, to court to receive an extra €10 million that his legal team believes he is owed for services rendered during the last year of his contract. This was the second time Slimane took the Kering Group to court in 2016, with the earlier battle being over his swift departure from the label.
4. During Seoul Fashion Week, Parisian designer Vetements collaborated with matchesfashion.com and hosted a garage sale inspired by the growing number of fake Vetements clothing in South Korea. The label made a statement saying that it will not be filing any lawsuits and that they hope the knock-off designer has enjoyed making “his project” as much as Vetements enjoys making its clothes; talk about an unprecedented move! The new creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele, followed suit by making a real “fake” white tee during the Italian fashion house’s Cruise 2017 collection. These t-shirts were inspired by the many counterfeits being sold across China, and are available for pre-order at Barney’s New York.
5. Samsung won its battle against Apple at the Supreme Court for the alleged infringement upon three specific design patents of Apple. While, we know this is not distinctly fashion related, this decision will likely have a profound impact on designers in the years to come. Contrary to Apple’s argument and existing legal precedent, the Supreme Court has now ruled that the “article of manufacture” addressed within a design patent doesn’t need to be a complete product. Rather, the article of manufacture can be merely part of a product. This means that if a company infringes a design patent, the patent holder may claim part of the profits, too. However, the Supreme Court did not explicitly explain how this rule will work, so we look forward to seeing how it will play out as it becomes more clear in the future.