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Choo-less Jimmy?

By Toni Guarino [April 23rd, 2011] 

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Rumors have been circulating about potential bidders for the sale of the luxury brand label Jimmy Choo Ltd.   The man behind the fashion label, however is out of the running.

According to Elle UK (and the Financial Times),when the private equity group behind the luxury label, TowerBrook Capital, announced that it was exploring the idea of a sale, Jimmy Choo (the designer) declared his interest.  But, it seems that TowerBrook have invited only three investors to advance to a second round of bidding, kicking Choo to the curb.

LVMH has been mentioned as a potential buyer, but the latest news comes from Reuters, on Tuesday April 19, 2011.  Reuters reports that according to the Dow Jones report, Bahrain-based Investcorp INVB.BH and German luxury company Labelux Group have made a joint offer for Jimmy Choo, and U.S. private equity firm TPG is also in the process.

Chief Executive for Jones Group, Wesley Card, told Reuters in February that his company was looking to buy brands that would help extend Jones’ reach, particularly into overseas markets.  In 2010, Jones bought high-end shoemaker Stuart Weitzman.  “Acquisitions are an important part of our growth strategy,” Card said.

TowerBrook expects to sell Jimmy Choo for £400 to 500 million, which is double the company’s value since it was acquired four years ago for £180 million, Elle reports.  Accordingly, Jimmy Choo himself hasn’t had a hand in the company since he sold his stake for £10 million, back in 2001.

But, that didn’t stop him from making a bid.  He retained investment advisors to explore the prospect of an acquisition, and even attracted the support of the Malaysian government and other Asian investors for a shot at the company.

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Fashion Law Legislation

By Alexa Silverman [April 22nd, 2011] 

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Last month, Women’s Wear Daily reported that the House of Representatives looked at two issues facing the world of fashion legislation.

The House passed amulti-faceted trade legislation by using a process that requires the support of two-thirds of lawmakers to advance.  The House passage on this legislation that extends two trade preferences programs and continues funding levels for wool fabric and yarn spinners is a big step for Industry Groups.  However, the House dropped a last minute provision that would have reinstated duty breaks for U.S. cotton shirt, yarn and fabric producers. <Read more>

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Marks & Spencer hit with trademark infringement suit

By Toni Guarino [April 22nd, 2011] 

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Marks & Spencer got hit with trademark infringement suit for using Google AdWord “interflora”, Bloomberg.com reported.

Interflora is a network of over 1,800 florists which operates a flower-delivery network in the U.K. The company is suing Marks & Spencer Group for violating its trademark rights by using keywords, such as “Interflora”, “Intaflora” and “Interflora Delivery”, to trigger ads on Google.

Precedent for the case came from a ruling last year involving Google and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA.  In that case, EU’s top court ruled on the rights of companies to prevent search engines within the EU from distributing trademarked names as keywords.

Advocate General Jääskinen of the EU Court of Justice issued a non-binding opinion on March 24th,2011, that trademark owners are “entitled to prohibit” use of protected terms as Internet keywords if the ads don’t allow people to ascertain where the services or products come from.

The Advocate General remarked “to my mind the display of the ad as a consequence of typing ‘interflora’ into a search engine creates in the context of this case an association that Marks & Spencer is part of the Interflora network”.

Therefore, the Advocate General stated that the use of a rival trademark as a Google AdWord, constitutes trademark infringement where the consumer is unable to determine whether or not the advertisement is for the brand for which they originally searched.  If the EU court follows this opinion, Marks & Spencer will have to take down the Google AdWords.

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The Next Chapter In The Brazilian Blowout Saga

By Alexa Silverman [April 22nd, 2011] 

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Earlier posts note many issues with the latest hair craze – the Brazilian Blowout.

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Collette, It’s More Than a Name.

By Melissa Morales [April 21st, 2011] 

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According to Start Up Smarts, fashion designer Collette Dinnigan is suing Colette Hayman for using the name “Colette Accessories.”  Collette  Dinnigan is a well known Australian label for women and its products are known as “Collette” or “Collette Dinnigan.” Dinnigan wants Hayman to stop selling its products under its current name and logo, and seeks damages or an amount equal to the profits that Hayman has made by Colette Accessories. Dinnigan argues that its “Collette” products have gained substantial reputation and goodwill for its fashion garments and accessories, and that the term Collette has become an indicator of solely Dinnigan products, and Hayman’s use of “Colette” on its accessories is causing confusion and deceiving consumers. Hayman, however, states that Colette is a common name and Dinnigan doesn’t own it. Colette Accessories currently operates 12 stores across Australia.

While the word Collette or Colette is a common name, Dinnigan has used the term for some time in association with its products and may have developed secondary-meaning among Australian consumers for a trademark infringement claim. One cannot claim their own name as a trademark to identify themselves. However, one can obtain trademark protection for their name if they use their name in commerce as an identifier of a source of goods or services. In order to receive trademark protection from the name “Collette,” Dinnigan will have to show that the name Collette has acquired secondary meaning because the public associates the mark (Collette) with a particular producer (Collette Dinnigan), rather than the underlying product (fashion garments and accessories).

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I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Bratz world

By Toni Guarino [April 21st, 2011] 

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According to the Associated Press, on Thursday, April 14th, a state court judge threw out Mattel’s case against rival company MGA Entertainment Inc., accusing them of fraudulently transferring millions in funds to avoid paying anticipated judgments in litigation over ownership of the Bratz doll.

AP reports, Mattel filed its complaint last September in the run-up to a federal copyright infringement and trade secrets trial pitting Mattel against MGA over who owns the billion-dollar Bratz brand.

Mattel prevailed in their suit against MGA, back in 2008, winning $1 million, and MGA was required to relinquish all rights to the Bratz dolls.  However, the verdict was later overturned and the case remanded for a new trial.

Mattel alleged in a related case that the designer of the Bratz doll line, Carter Bryant, was working for them when he designed the Bratz dolls, and that MGA and its CEO, Isaac Larian, conspired to steal the idea and then cover up their actions.

On Friday, April 15, Larian said he would sue Mattel for MGA’s legal fees in the state case, and for malicious prosecution and defamation.

Michael Zeller, an attorney for Mattel, said the company had filed the state case to protect its ability to collect on any judgment.  “The court dismissed the filing as premature and has left open Mattel’s right to refile the case at an appropriate time in the future,” Zeller stated.

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Jane Birkin Not Knocked by Knockoffs

By gakselband [April 21st, 2011] 

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If you have been following this blog, or the legal side of fashion in general, you are probably aware of the ongoing battle between good and evil, right and wrong, or otherwise known as, real and fake.  The fashion industry invests a lot of time and money  into brand protection. On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are those who aren’t bothered by infringement. Who would have thought that Jane Birkin, namesake and inspiration for Hermès’ Birkin Bag, is one of these rebels?

As part of a charity auction to benefit Red Cross efforts in Japan, Jane Birkin put up one of her own br0ken-in Birkin bags on eBay. Vogue.com was able to catch up with the singer, actress, director, songwriter, and activist to discuss her sartorial legacy. In the interview, Birkin was asked about her thoughts on the popularity of the Birkin bag – both real or fake – and she had this to say:

“It’s very nice that everyone’s got one or wants one. I keep saying to Hermès to make it out of plastic or, even more fun, make it out of cardboard. Then it wouldn’t be so heavy. But if people want to go for the real thing, fine. If they go for copies, that’s fine too. I really don’t think it matters.”

Do you think the folks at Hermès would feel the same? Read the rest of the piece here.

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Take a whiff of Chanel

By Toni Guarino [April 20th, 2011] 

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Chanel prevailed in a trademark infringement suit against a group of companies doing business under the name “Perfume Collection Inc.” on Wednesday, April 13th, WWD reports.    Chanel alleged that Perfume Collection Inc. was illegally selling their perfume.

The perfume company reportedly sold multiple Chanel fragrances “without Chanel’s distinctive outer packaging.”  The suit went on to say that additionally, Perfume Collection Inc. offered items without the company’s tamper-proof outer cellophane shell.

A federal judge ordered that the defendants pay Chanel $10,000 in damages, and an additional $6,000, which is to be paid in $500 installments.

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Because you’re worth it

By Toni Guarino [April 19th, 2011] 

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Former CEO of L’Oréal, Lindsay Owen-Jones is facing allegations made by a shareholder of the company (and his Swiss distribution company).  Janez Mercun (the shareholder), and his firm Temtrade distributed L’Oréal products from 1974 to 1999 in Eastern Europe.

Now WWD reports, Mercun claims that Owen-Jones engaged in active and passive corruption, aggravated laundering, misappropriation of corporate funds and breach of trust.

The scuffle dates back to a past commercial disagreement in 1998.  The French court (Cour de Cassation) issued it’s final ruling in L’Oréal’s favor in 2003.

Counsel for Mercun, Frédérik-Karel Canoy claims that the five former accusations have nothing to do with the current one, which is in the criminal justice system.  The complaint is a supplement to another (still pending) legal action filed on September 30th.  Mercun and Temtrade allege misuse of corporate funds in association with past contracts between L’Oréal and photographer François-Marie Banier.  L’Oréal responded that it had ended those contracts on September 2oth.

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A Glimpse into the Chinese Counterfeit Market

By gakselband [April 19th, 2011] 

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After a trip to Hong Kong author Jonathan Littman reported back with tales of police evasion, quarantine, and bargain (counterfeit) shopping.

It’s a very interesting piece in which one can pretty much substitute Hong Kong for New York City, but it also touches upon some controversial topics. For one, the author questions the argument put forth by some market experts about counterfeits acting as a gateway to the real thing. I previously wrote about an E.U. study that delves into the argument, and seems in line with the author’s conclusions:

It may sound far fetched, but is it really that crazy an idea? What if a little up-front loss on counterfeiting is returned by a steady percentage of shoppers who get hooked on high-priced fashion?

What really caught my attention, though, is the author’s experience with US Customs.

That night I take the Singapore Airlines red-eye back to San Francisco, and get stuck in the line with the chatty customs officer. I mention I’m a Contributor Editor at Playboy and that amuses him and he inquires about Hugh Hefner’s sex life. It’s going swimmingly well until he stares tellingly at my wrist,

“Where’d you get the Omega?”

What should I say? If I say it’s real, he may assume I just bought it and owe import duty. And if say it’s a Chinese phony? Like most Americans, I don’t really know the rules.

Later, I’m surprised to discover that my fears were unfounded.

Thanks to Customs Directive No. 2310-011A, the author was able to bring in one article, “…which must accompany the person, bearing a counterfeit, confusingly similar, or restricted gray market trademark, provided that the article is for
personal use and not for sale.” Only slightly unsettling when viewed in light of what our anti-counterfeiting laws aim to accomplish. Considering the time, effort, and money invested into brand protection, our own government still allows one to come to the following conclusion:

Our government is largely ambivalent about tourist purchases of minor counterfeit fashion items overseas. As long as you don’t go hog wild it’s perfectly legal to bring counterfeit fashion brands into the U.S.

If every person who ever wanted a Louis Vuitton handbag instead opted for a foreign counterfeit, would the aforementioned Customs Directive still be justified? While it is doubtful that a whole customer base would flock toward counterfeit products, the potential remains.

Read the article here.

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