Arent Fox is the leading law firm for handling intellectual property issues for fashion and luxury goods clients. We have extensive experience protecting our clients’ brands and designs, and defending them from challenges to their marks and designs. Our attorneys have defended trademark, patent, and copyright lawsuits related to suits brought by competitors challenging our clients’ right to use their mark. We have also obtained groundbreaking court decisions in the area of counterfeit and grey market products such as when we successfully worked to essentially shut down Canal Street from selling one of our client’s products and won a decision against a large big box retailer from selling grey market goods.
Fresh from the runway to the front pages of the internet, fashion designs are now instantly available for anyone to examine and copy. However, designers are not without legal protection. Fortune reports that major fashion brands like Tory Burch, Belstaff, Christian Louboutin, Hermès, and Alexander McQueen are successfully utilizing trade dress and design patent laws to defend and protect their creations from pirates.
Clients often ask whether—and, if so, when—they must use the ® and ™ symbols, or other forms of attribution, when using another company’s trademarks. This question arises in a variety of settings. For example, a company may want to use another’s trademark in order to make a comparative advertising claim, to state that its product is compatible with another company’s product, or to identify a business relationship with another company. The rules for the attribution of another’s trademarks are not cut and dry.
In a closely-watched fashion design case, the Sixth Circuit ruled last week that decorative designs on cheerleading uniforms are eligible for copyright protection. The US Copyright Act does not provide protection for functional aspects of clothing. However, it is possible to obtain copyright protection for purely-decorative features of clothing that exist independently of an article’s utilitarian aspects, which is the heart of the issue the Sixth Circuit was grappling with. The 2-1 opinion in Varsity Brands et al. v.
Jawbone and Fitbit, both billion-dollar leaders in the “wearable” technology category of fitness bands, are warming up for what may become a test of legal endurance. Jawbone recently filed three lawsuits in three different courts, accusing Fitbit of infringing patents, poaching employees, and stealing trade secrets. Although Fitbit has not yet hit back with its own suit, the two rivals seem poised to start a lengthy legal battle.
ABOUT ARENT FOX LLP
Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.