In a recent case in New York, J. Crew Group, Inc. sued one of its former designers, Dwight Fenton, for breaching its duty of confidentiality, unfair competition and misappropriation, alleging that, when he left the company to work for a direct competitor, he took with him trade secrets and other confidential business information for use at his new job.
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.
What Is Derivation?
Derivation occurs when one obtains an invention from another. As the US moves from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system under the American Invents Act (AIA) on March 16, 2013, derivation is an issue in two contexts: (1) as an exception to novelty defeating acts; and (2) in derivation proceedings that replace interferences.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) affirmed a decision rejecting Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc.’s (Lululemon) trademark application for a large version of its logo as used on the front of hooded sweatshirts, jackets and coats. While the TTAB recognized that the appearance of oversized logos on clothing and fashion items was becoming more frequent and could be protectable, it held that Lululemon failed to provide sufficient evidence to meet the standards for registrability.
A California federal jury determined two floral designs manufactured into garments imported by Ms. Bubbles Inc. and sold in Aeropostale stores, infringed copyrighted designs of a snowflake and a rose owned by Plaintiff LA Printex. The Defendants argued the textile designs lack valid registered copyrights, were never marketed and were created during the litigation, however, after two hours of deliberation, the federal jury found Aeropostale infringed the textile designs and there was willful infringement by Ms. Bubbles.
The California Attorney General recently filed two lawsuits in state court against Chinese and Indian apparel manufacturers, accusing the companies of obtaining an unfair competitive advantage over US firms through the use of pirated software. See People of the State of California v. Ningbo Beyond Home Textile Co., Ltd., No. BC499771 (Cal. Super. Ct. Jan. 24, 2013); People of the State of California v. Pratibha Syntex Ltd., No. BC499751 (Cal. Super. Ct. Jan. 24, 2013).
Two recent defamation cases highlight the risks involved in suing former customers or clients for defamation based on the posting of negative online reviews on Internet review websites such as AngiesList.com and Yelp.com. Not only does a defamation claim run the risk of igniting free speech concerns in the context, but filing a weak claim could expose a company to liability in states that have strong anti-SLAPP statutes.
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.