A common theme this past year, and increasing within the past few years, is the violation of federally regulated trademarks in regards to the domain rights within fashion industry. This was especially the case for Prada, and their sister company, Miu Miu, this past summer. The two companies jointly argued that over 25 online domains had names that were too similar to their registered trademark, filing a complaint under the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) Arbitration and Mediation Centre.
The issue with these confusingly similar names were that the individuals behind the domains were not utilizing them for legitimate reasons and in bad faith. Rather, as is often the case in disputes as such, these individuals were using the domains to divert business from sellers of authentic Prada and Miu Miu goods. Luckily for these ever so chic fashion brands, WIPO was able to successfully settle the dispute in Prada and Miu Miu’s favour.
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has become increasingly popular for trademark owners, specifically because it provides efficiency in both time and cost mechanisms through decreasing the need for court litigation. Huge high-end fashion retailers, who are subsequently trademark owners – such as Prada, Balmain, Jimmy Choo and many more – have filed over 2,500 cases under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) with WIPO in 2015, an increase of 4.6 % over the previous year.
Unfortunately for retailers, fashion (alongside banking) is a prominent area for disputes in regards to the violation of federally regulated trademarks. In such a competitive corporate atmosphere, small companies and individuals are trying to find ways to gain business and reach amongst target markets. However, trademark infringement and cybersquatting are NOT an efficient means of doing so.
Be chic, don’t cheat.