Amidst the recent buzz regarding a J.Crew buyout, shareholders have remained steadfast in expressing their dissatisfaction with the deal and the subsequent proposed settlement. Melissa Morales previously covered the $3 billion buyout of the brand by Texas Pacific Group (TPG Capital) and Leonard Green & Partners and the ensuing trouble with shareholders who demanded the door be opened to other offers in a “go-shop” period. The go-shop period, a common provision in many leveraged buyouts, usually fails to acquire new proposals, and they often serve to ward off criticism that a company has sold itself at an inadequate price.
In this case, however, J.Crew’s CEO Millard S. Drexler has been subject to intense criticism for waiting seven weeks after beginning discussions with TPG and Leonard Green before informing the board of the talks. As a result, J.Crew became entangled in numerous merger-related lawsuits, which argue that the sale process was unfair to shareholders not named Mr. Drexler.
The New York Post recently reported on a restaurant that has teamed up with designer Kate Huling, to create a unique menu item that can be ordered as a side to a steak and worn with your date’s favorite outfit. Williamsburg restaurant Marlow & Sons offers an assortment of steaks cut from the finest local beef, while they also offer handbags made from the skin of the cow that customers have just eaten. “[Look at] how quickly you can eat a burger, and that animal sacrifice for you is just gone. Whereas with the bag, that’s something that can last for generations and generations,” said Huling, whose husband, Andrew Tarlow, runs the trio of restaurants.
As for the actual handbags, they are not actually made on premises. The skins leave the slaughterhouses for a tannery in upstate Gloversville, and are then made into leather goods in Midtown’s Fashion District before ending up on the homespun shelves at Marlow & Sons. In addition to the handbags, the collaboration will include belts, footballs and wallets — and next fall, rabbit-fur hats and lambswool sweaters.
Maybe Marlow & Sons should register a trademark for clothing and accessories so as to avoid any future beef?
It should come as no surprise that trademark owners do not like counterfeiters and make it a priority to bring them down. But how do these same trademark owners feel about legitimate sales of their products by unlicensed third-party customers? In some cases, there is no love lost. Every so often, trademark owners attempt to regulate their products post-sale and maintain strict control over distribution channels. Whether it be shampoo, radar detectors, Mary-Kay makeup, or handbags, some trademark owners lump these legitimate resellers into the same category as counterfeiters. In many of these scenarios, trademark owners seem to be looking for ways to avoid the first sale doctrine, which serves to immunize a reseller from infringement liability. Such protection to the reseller extends to the point where said goods have not been altered so as to be materially different from those originating from the trademark owner. An aversion to legal action usually causes the reseller back down. If that doesn’t work, the owner may sometimes be successful if it is able to show that the product being sold is materially different from the original, i.e. lack of warranty, expired, etc.
The newest battle between magazine pictorials and the American public involves the actors of the already controversial MTV show Skins. The show, based on a British show is itself a controversy that brings up child labor laws, and child pornography. The current issue of Elle Magazine features the cast of the show posing in underwear for a storyboard about underwear as outerwear.
For a “fashionista” this may be nothing out of the ordinary and using the teens as models gives it a raw edge, which sells; however, some argue that this straddles the fence of child pornography. The Parents Television Council have had concerns and opinions over a similar matter when the cast of Fox’s hit show Glee posed provocatively in a spread for GQ.
The difference between these two magazine stories is that the Glee cast members are over age 18 but portray high school aged characters. The cast of Skins are not, they are teenagers portraying what life is supposedly like for teenagers today. In Elle’s defense the parents of the Skins actors were on set and gave permission for the photo shoot. The argument for the PTC is that the image that the kids of today are getting from these pictorials, seeing characters that they watch who are the same ages as them acting this way and dressing this way sends a bad and immoral message.
Do you think this is appropriate for high fashion magazines to depict current trends, are they just riding the wave of controversy to sell magazines? And would you feel comfortable looking at the spread as you would any other magazine article OR do you think the magazines are exploiting today’s youths and sending the wrong message out to the world, and would you feel like you were violating some kind of ethical or even legal standard?
Gap may not be the only company facing accusations of copying photographs from the Internet and using them on their clothing without permission from the photographers. Last week, one of our writers posted an article discussing Gap’s use of a photograph taken by Chris Devers. Devers took a photo of an old Jaguar and published that photo on Flickr Photostream. Soon after, that image appeared on Gap’s “Thermal Body Double” Onesie. The two images are so similar that it will be hard for Gap to argue that it did not derive that image from Devers’ photo. It’s the same image- an identical vehicle with a yellow circle at the top left corner of the vehicle.
It seems like there is drama on and off the screen in the film the Black Swan. Two of the costume designers who contributed to the film are claiming they did not get enough credit rights. These two costume designers aren’t just anyone; they are the Mulleavy sisters behind the Rodarte line. Natalie Portman brought the designers onto the film to help create costumes for the ballet dancers. According to Star Pulse, they created seven looks for the film. However, the main person credited for the costume designs in the film was the official costume designer Amy Westcott. This means that any costume design award will go to Ms. Westcott and not the Mulleavy sisters. Ms. Westcott finally responded to the allegations brought by the Rodarte sisters saying they are spreading “ill-informed gossip”. There was a lot of publicity surrounding the tutus for the film after word spread that the Rodarte sisters were on board. Westcott says the press exaggerated the Mulleavy sister’s involvement in the costume design process. According to her, Westcott and the director worked with Rodarte and gave approval for each design. Westcott said: “As a costume designer, you oversee every stitch that goes before the camera. You are responsible for everything, whether an item is designed by me, purchased, farmed out to a specialized item designer or a combination of all of these. I think that is greatly misunderstood. The job is a 24/7, a five or six month commitment.” Sounds like a work for hire argument to me.
A “work made for hire” is— (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. (17 U.S.C. § 101)
The full text of Amy Wescott’s interview with Clothes on Film is available here. The sketch above belongs to Amy Wescott.
After extending their deadline twice, American Apparel was granted a third extension to show compliance with a loan from Lion Capital, a London based investment firm. They now have until Thursday to show that their earnings in the past year are at least $20 million dollars as stated in their loan agreement with Lion Capital or they might be sent to bankruptcy court. One of America’s most popular brands, American Apparel has been struggling financially as many other brands have as well due to the economy. Lion Capital loaned $80 million dollars to American Apparel in 2009 to help them pay back a $51 million dollar loan from Dell. According to WWD, “The Company is discussing possible amendments to the Lion credit agreement to address its compliance with the specified covenant…However, the company can provide no assurance that it will be able to secure such amendments.” According to the New York Post, the company claims the financial woes arose from the federal government’s demands to fire over a third of their employees. “The reduction in manufacturing efficiency was principally a result of the forced termination of over 1,500 experienced manufacturing employees in the third and fourth quarters of 2009 following the completion of the previously-disclosed I-9 inspection by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said a spokesman for American Apparel in a statement last week. One of the biggest problems is that American Apparel is understaffed and their output is less efficient as a result. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this widely favored brand overcomes this obstacle quickly and smoothly.
According to CMU, prominent U.S. fashion photographer David LaChapelle is suing Rihanna and her team for creating a music video which is “directly derived” from a photo shoot he did for Vogue back in 2002. David LaChapelle states that Rihanna’s “S&M” video appropriated eight of his images and that the video as a whole copied the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe, and lighting” of his photo shoot.
Many have noted the similarities between the photo shoot and the video. How did David LaChapelle discover the similarities between the two works? People actually thought he had directed the video and contacted his studio to confirm his involvement!
Not only have 11 countries banned Rihanna’s “S&M” video for its sexual content, but now the team is facing some serious legal issues and may potentially have to fork up a hefty amount in damages. LaChapelle is seeking over $4 million in damages as well as attorney fees and costs of the lawsuit.
The following images, taken from Daily Mail, show the similarities and differences between the images from the Rihanna video and LaChapelle’s photo shoot. Rihanna’s images are so striking similar to LaChapelle’s photo shoot that a copyright infringement claim in favor of LaChapelle wouldn’t be a surprise.
If you are reading this blog, you are probably already interested in the field, however, you may not know exactly what the term “fashion law” means or how to break into the industry. Google it, and among one of the top five hits is a post by Fordham law professor Susan Scafidi on her blog Counterfeit Chic. Scafidi is the force behind Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute, where she created the first U.S. course in fashion law. The number four google hit pulls up a post entitled “Fashion Law“, where Scafidi provides informative tips on how to get into fashion law. The list also includes tips on what not to do, and even a clip from the movie Sex and The City. Scafidi breaks down the “don’ts” into different roles you should avoid assuming, such as the “Park Avenue Princess”, and the “Fan Girl (or Boy)”, where she advises:
“…the more you sound like Rachel Zoe, the less you sound like a promising legal candidate. If you don’t know who Rachel Zoe is, you’re on the right track.”
I came across an interesting article about the female rapper, Nicki Minaj. She markets herself as the Hip Hop Barbie. Mattel owns the Barbie toy brand. The writer of the article and myself, do not understand how Mattel has not taken legal action against Minaj for trademark infringement. While I do not think they would prevail, it is surprising that Mattel has been quiet considering their love for Barbie and their many past lawsuit, good and bad, all to protect the Barbie trademark.