Intellectual property bias in fashion
Weeks after Adidas lost a trademark lawsuit to Thom Browne, Nike filed its own lawsuit against Bape. This case is not surprising given the controversy surrounding the Bape Sta, which bears striking resemblance to the Air Force 1. Nike claims trademark infringement and misrepresentation of origin, saying of the latter that “our business revolves around copying Nike’s iconic designs.” The word “iconic” is key.
Fashion is often vilified and often falls victim to cynics who downplay its artistic value. Governments are no exception. Current copyright law does not apply to “useful” items such as clothing. The court protects some exceptions made by “separability” involving design features separated from items such as graphics. are you there?
Unlike the US, Europe does not have the same problem. The continent’s rich fashion history underpins the industry. European designers can register design rights, which helps brands.
Here are some examples of fashion industry intellectual property that set the tone for the United States.
Groundbreaking Intellectual Property Case
First, the battle between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent began in 2011. The former was notorious for the red outsoles of its shoes, and filed a lawsuit after learning that YSL planned to sell solid-color shoes, including red ones. The shoe brand has filed a lawsuit over allegations of trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition. ” counterattacked by filing a countersuit to remove the trademark.
After going through multiple courts, the plaintiff won the case. The original judge ruled that single-color trademarks were not allowed, but the Second Circuit found the resolution to be inconsistent with his 1995 Supreme Court ruling. Ultimately, the court ruled that the trademark only applied when the red outsole and the rest of the shoe contrasted.
This legal battle was important in the intellectual property debate in fashion. In some cases, courts protect monochromatic designs. However, this case set an example of public recognition considering such a ruling.
Adidas vs Thom Browne
Adidas, infamous for its white three-stripes logo, recently filed a lawsuit against designer Thom Browne. The company also sought $8 million in damages. The lawsuit began in 2018 when he filed a trademark for Browne’s three-stripes logo called Grosgrain. However, fashion critics theorize that Braun’s foray into sportswear also led to Adidas’ response.
Appearances on court became fashion shows in themselves. Brown wore his own outfit from the Spring 2023 show at PFW, and in court, his entire team wore clothes from Tom’s Brown collection.
The lawsuit, which Mr. Browne won, relied heavily on nostalgia. He mentioned growing up in a sports-obsessed family of his and his own sports background at his school. His desire to have a logo is something Ralph learned during his Lauren days. The court also denied Adidas’ claim for damages.
Brown’s testimony unmistakably rejects the accusations about grosgrain’s functionality and weaves it into a visual that represents his design aesthetic.
Concrete effects apply only to individual homes and designers, but they also raise philosophical questions. What about fashion art? The reason can be made by citing “self-expression” and “creativity”. But without government approval, the American fashion industry operates in a gray area.
Featured image via https://www.cnn.com/style/article/adidas-thom-browne-verdict/index.html