On April 11, 2012, the Department of Commerce released a report that focused on the broad range of industries that benefit from IP, both directly and indirectly. According to Law of Fashion, ‘the report will be used as a tool to help press for intellectual protections in trade negotiations and provide supporting data for the administration’s new International Trade Enforcement Agency, which could bring cases against countries where counterfeiting and digital piracy is rampant.” IP is a key component in our economic growth. It comes as no surprise that IP-intensive industries support the jobs of approximately 40 million workers because the impact of copyright, trademark, and patent protection is inevitably enormous. The Obama Administration’s focus on promoting innovation can trigger a successful, competitive, international market, and by enforcing and protecting IP rights, these IP related industries can continue to support these jobs and contribute to about $5 trillion to U.S. domestic product. The report summary stated, “Without this framework, the creators of intellectual property would tend to lose the economic fruits of their own work, thereby undermining the incentives to undertake the investments necessary to develop the IP in the first place.” Within our Case Clothesed blog, we have seen countless numbers of lawsuits in the fashion industry where creators of IP fight to protect their work so that others cannot benefit off a work that isn’t theirs.
The report identified some of the most IP-intensive industries that use copyright, trademark, and patent protections the most extensively. Electronic shopping & mail-order houses, footwear manufacturing, and clothing stores were among the top trademark-intensive industries with top 100 global brands in 2011. It is clear that the fashion industry thrives off of innovation and incentives to invent and create. While the fashion world is only a mere portion of the IP market, this report puts into perspective just how much IP protection affects commerce throughout the economy.
The full report can be found here.
Sacha Baron Cohen is known for his notorious role in the movie Borat. Despite the movie’s positive reception by some and outright rejection by others, many can simply agree that one of the infamous scenes of the movie was where he wore an extremely unique, and albeit revealing, one-piece swimsuit. Apparently someone from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office remembered this swimsuit from Borat and used this reference to reject a patent application for a “Scrotal Support Garment.”
Inventor Donald R. Quinn first filed an application to patent this apparatus in 2009. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Quinn described his invention as “support devices for male genitalia, and particularly to a scrotal support garment that provides support for the scrotum for patients having ailments or medical conditions affecting the genitalia or groin in order to relieve pain or discomfort.”
Some will say Paris Hilton is a trademark-licensing phenomenon by lending her name to a wide range of products from perfumes to shoes to her most recent endeavor-watches. However, this latest endeavor has become very problematic for the heiress. According to Perez Hilton, fine jewelry and watch designer de Grisogono has filed suit against Paris Hilton Entertainment alleging patent infringement of one of their watch designs. The particular watch has been sold by the company since 2007 and is named “Novantatre” which is Italian for “93” referring to the prominently seen “9” and “3” on the watch’s face. According to IPtrademarkattorney.com, de Grisogono applied for and was granted U.S. Patent Nos. D596,052 (“the ‘052 patent”) and D627,673 (“the ‘673 patent”) to protect their design. The ‘673 patent relates to the ornamental design of the watch dial, including the particular positioning of the “9” and “3” on the face of the watch. The ‘052 patent on the other hand, covers the square-shaped design of the watch. De Grisogono is accusing the Paris Hilton-branded “Coussin” watch of copying those same protected design elements that are covered by the two patents.
Here is an update to my previous post about the legal battle between the two big names in invisible braces:
ClearCorrect, LLC. responded to the allegations made against the company by rival company Align Technology, Inc., the creators of the Invisalign product. According to a press release posted by MSNBC,
“I never imagined that ClearCorrect would be sued for making a product too affordable for doctors and patients,” said Dr. Willis Pumphrey, ClearCorrect founder and chairman, and a practicing Houston dentist. “We’ve simply created a business model that supports our purpose of making clear aligners more affordable. This suit only further demonstrates how out-of-touch Align has become with the needs of doctors who prefer superior and more affordable products for their patients.”
According to a statement given by Clear Correct’s lawyer, Mike Meyers, “In previous litigation against Ormco, a federal court invalidated several of Align’s patent claims.” Meyers goes on to say, “ClearCorrect will begin its defense where Ormco left off and ask the federal court to invalidate even more of Align’s patent claims — thereby opening the market to all who, like ClearCorrect, may offer superior and more affordable products for doctors and patients.” So the suit proceeds, we’ll see who else joins in the defense. Thanks to Anthony Penketh for pointing me to this article.
Remember when you had to wear those unsightly metal braces? I had to, twice. By the time “Invisalign” came out, I was already done with my two-time stint, and although a little skeptical, I wished that I had been given the option of clear braces. According to MSNBC, on Monday, February 28, 2011, Align Technology, Inc., the company behind the invisalign clear braces, filed a patent infrigement suit against ClearCorrect, Inc., alleging that ClearCorrect infringes upon eight of Align’s patents by making, offering to sell, and selling its clear aligner therapy systems. According to the company’s website, Align calls itself the “pioneer[s] [in] the invisible orthodontics market” with the introduction of its Invisalign products in 1999. ClearCorrect’s website claims that its product is the “clearest option”, and in a comparison chart, the company distinguishes its aligners by stating that they have a “smooth surface finish [which] withstands clouding from wear” and adds the products are “minimally invasive”. Align however doesn’t see the difference.
According to a press release from the company, Align claims that ClearCorrect infringes upon eight Align patents through the production and sale of ClearCorrect aligners. The patents in question cover a wide range of Align’s processes and include patents previously challenged and validated by the USPTO through a re-examination process. Align is seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief against further infringement.
In an additional state action filed against ClearCorrect, Align argues that ClearCorrect engages in unlawful business practices, specifically the unlawful offering and selling of its products at prices below ClearCorrect’s average total cost of producing and distributing the products, therefore damaging the marketplace for clear aligner systems. Align alleges these practices are in violation of the California Unfair Practices Act, California Business and Professions Code § 17043, MSNBC reports. Roger E. George, Align’s vice president and general counsel stated, “we will take all necessary actions to protect Align and its shareholders from unlawful competitive practices, whether they come in the form of infringement of our intellectual property rights or in the form of disruptive and damaging business practices.” It seems that Align presents a strong case, we will see who prevails.
Romag Fasteners, Inc., a Connecticut based company that manufactures and sells magnetic based snap enclosures, sued Fossil, Inc. and Macy’s, Inc. yesterday alleging patent and trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of the Lanham Act, and unfair trade practices in violation of state law. Romag seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Specifically, the Romag wants to prevent the Macy’s from continuing to sell the Fossil handbags that contain counterfeit Romag magnetic snap fasteners. (Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125647 (D. Conn. 2010))
On November 15, 2010, Howard Reiter, the President of Romag was shopping at a Macy’s store in Connecticut when he noticed a familiar magnetic snap enclosure on some Fossil brand handbags. Shocked to see his company’s design, he purchased several of the Fossil handbags, which he claims contained counterfeit snaps. After examining them closer, Reiter noticed that each of the snaps contained the Romag patent number and trademark, but there were slight differences. For example, the snaps’ dimensions and the use of a period after the words “USA Pat.”. Romag’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Fossil’s Counsel on November 17, 2010, but, Fossil and Macy’s did not agreed to stop selling the Fossil handbags that contain the counterfeit Romag snaps. Therefore, Romag took the matter to Connecticut State Court. Romag sought to temporarily restrain Macy’s from continuing to sell Fossil handbags that contain the counterfeit snaps.
The judge noted that the differences which Reiter pointed out are not likely to be noticeable by the average customer. The opinion states:
In sum, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that consumer confusion will be caused by the continued sale of Fossil bags with counterfeit snaps. The counterfeit snaps are substantially similar to Romag’s snaps and a customer is unlikely to notice the small differences between the two products. Therefore, Romag has met its burden that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its Lanham Act claim and that irreparable harm will result if preliminary relief is not granted. (id. at 125647)
Thus, the judge found in favor of Romag, and ordered that Macy’s is temporarily restrained from selling and offering for sale Fossil Handbags containing the counterfeit Romag fasteners.
Gawker.com reported that the December 2010 issue of Russian Vogue contains an actual media player embeded into magazine ad for Bacardi’s vermouth brand, Martini & Rossi, flaunting it’s newly launched spirit Martini Gold by Dolce & Gabbana. See the ad here. The ad features a movie shot by Swedish director Jonas Okerlund, staring Monica Bellucci – It may not be HD (yet), but it does include sound too!
Welcome to the digital community Mr. D & Mr. G!!! It’s great to see more of the originators of iconic fashion becoming modern advertising artisans – adding new media to the designers’ array of accomplishments in attire.
In the current electronic savvy market, it was only a matter of time for social networking to develop for every aspect of business. The new website myHeureka.com has developed an online forum for those seeking help with securing intellectual property rights, specifically patent and copyright. Though the site does not mention trademark protection, copyright protection is important to all designers.
The site is geared towards connecting investors and allowing funding for those who might not have other resources to turn to. Brilliant idea. Social networking has become the key to interacting and connecting with those far and wide. While the site allows for the direct pitching of ideas and designs, it is unclear how the discussion and forum sharing doesn’t lead to stolen material. The site apparently makes it easy to pitch and rate ideas. Perhaps a mere mention of the material is pitched, without divulging the full enchilada, but even so, inventors, artists, and designers should be careful about sharing. I applaud the site’s efforts to “simplify the process of acquiring intellectual property rights and make it easily accessible for common man/woman.” Well done.
Issey Miyake revealed his “132 5″ line, inspired by origami, in which the garments are created from intricately folded fabrics in sustainable, recycled materials. The model for the clothing was developed by computer scientist, Jun Mitani.
The technology that Mitani used to create the line likely falls under patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. If Issey Miyake hired Mitani specifically to create a model to carry out his idea for the line, U.S. law will likely require an assignment of the patent rights to Miyake (obviously, any cutting-edge couturier would have a contract). This is sometimes called the “shop right” or the “hired-to-invent doctrine.” However, if Mitani invented the technology independently, Issey Miyake probably paid just for its use on this project, but Mitani world maintain ownership in any patent rights for the program itself.
The Coventry Telegraph (UK) reported this week on the Lord Stafford Awards contestants. The award showcases and celebrates collaboration between universities and businesses in the West Midlands.
Annabel McMahon started Rackety’s clothing line for disabled children. The majority of her customers suffer from cerebral palsy, downs syndrome and autism. Annabel noticed that the apparel market for disabled consumers was “not quite healthcare and certainly not fashionable.” She had several years experience designing clothing for major UK high street stores and wanted to “change the choices and perceptions surrounding disability and adaptive clothing forever”. Her designs are colorful, comfortable, fashionable, easy on, easy off and even functional.