Sunday, November 30, 2014

Land Rover Calls Chinese Auto Maker a Knock-Off

We usually highlight knock-offs as it relates to fashion, but this story was too good to not share with you. Once again this particular knockoff involves China, the king producer of manufactured goods and knockoffs.

LandWind, an automotive company based in Guangzhou, China has released an SUV that looks very identical to the Range Rover Evoque.  It is called LandWind X7 and Jaguar Land Rover (Range Rover's parent company) is not happy about it at all.

At first glance, the LandWind's outer appearance is strikingly similar to the Evoque. Not only does it have the same body style, but the position of LandWind's name and emblem is very similar to the Evoque despite the $60,000 price difference. Not only is the Land Wind the same design, it is $20,000 whereas the Evoque starts at $80,000 at Chinese dealerships.


Two key parties from Jaguar Land Rover have spoken out. As reported on AutoCar,  Dr. Ralph Speth, Land Rover's Chief Executive Officer said, "the intellectual property is owned by Jaguar Land Rover and if you break that IP then you are in breach of international regulations that apply around the world."  Also, Ian Callum, Jaguar's chief designer tweeted photos of the LandWind.

But will Land Rover have a meritorious case, if any case at all against LandWind? Let us analyze this automobile knock off through our knowledge of intellectual property infringement.

    • When it comes to U.S. law fashion, A KNOCK OFF IS NOT ENOUGH TO SUE for infringement but A COUNTERFEIT IS . A knock off design merely means one item looks like another one. It is legal under u.s. law because it could mean that one the look and design of one item inspired the design of another item. However a counterfeit design takes it a step further and means, not only does my one item look like another, it is design in a fashion as to deceive the consumer into believing that it is the item that it looks like. You can learn the difference between a knockoff and a counterfeit here at the Preponderance of Fashion Blog. 

    • Analysis: Land Rover correctly called the LandWind a knockoff because the latter only looks like the Evoque. Since LandWind uses the word LandWind and the LandWind emblem to decorate the car, it is not a counterfeit, and therefore is legal in the United States. However, if Chinese IP law makes knockoffs illegal (We seriously doubt it), then LandRover may have a successful chance bringing an infringement suit in Guangzhou. 
    • Caveat: 

    • Nicole D. Galli says, “patent litigation in the auto industry dates back to the first days of cars” and discussed patent attorney George Selden, who sued all the early auto makers, including Henry Ford, for infringing on his patent, which was granted in 1895. You can check out a recent case on auto litigation here

    • As we discussed before in our post on patents there are three types- one for designs, one for utility, and one for plants. We will only discuss the design and utility patents. "A design patent is granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. A utility patent is granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements" says the U.S. Patent Office. Think of how it looks (design) vs how it functions (utility).

    • Analysis:  We cannot imagine Land Rover not having a design patent for the Evoque because its design makes it unique in how it looks. And although we are not sure, we cannot imagine Land Rover not having a utility patent for the way the Evoque functions - especially if the design (the way it looks) cannot be separated from it's utility (the way it functions).  Cars are computers designed with many codes that relay to its aerodynamics and safety technology. Think speed, seat belts, airbags, and mechanics under the hood. Therefore Land Rover has a strong case for design patent infringement under U.S. Law; and our bet is they have a strong case for a utility patent as well.
    • Also, The specifications of the Land Wind are very similar to the Evoque. This will definitely help Land Rover's case. 

We will definitely keep you updated on this case. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Business of Blogging: What the Federal Trade Commision Has to Say About Blog Endorsements (Part 2)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the US government in charge of preventing business practices that are anti-competitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; enhancing informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process. The FTC says its mission is to accomplish the aforementioned without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.The FTC is in charge of protecting consumers from fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in the workplace. Think: online counterfeit sellers and the like.

 The FTC recognizes that bloggers that work directly with fashion retailers and brands refer a lot traffic to the retailer website which turn into sales. Social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter enable bloggers to endorse and advertise brands and retailer products. "This is done through likes, comments, retweets, replies, brand mentions, shares, and increases in in-bound and out-bound links," WWD reports.

First, let's explain how shopping through social media works. The old school way was seeing an item on a celebrity or blogger and going to find it by yourself. But now Instagram is shoppable through LiketoKnow.It, a daughter company of RewardStyle, a Dallas, Texas based company that monetizes blogs. Instagram sends users an email with the shopping information of the items inside the Instagram photos they like. Users then sign up with in order to buy the item. Think bloggers like Sincerely Jules and celebrities like Lilly Ghalichi and Lauren Conrad. Sites like LTK include startups like Soldsie, Chirpify, and Hashbag. via

So what rules and regulations do the FTC have in place for the business of blogging? Well, in March 2013, the FTC published specific rules and regulations in .Com Disclosure, How to make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.
  • Endorsements and Advertisements
    • Bloggers must make all online endorsement disclosures must be clear and conspicuous.
      • considerations of "clear and conspicuous" include the placement of the disclosure and it's proximity to any claims, the prominence of the disclosure, whether the disclosure should be communicated repeatedly as consumers travel through the site; and whether there are audible and visual messages that will distract consumer's attention from the disclosure.
  • Fraud and Deceit
    • Advertising must be truthful and not misleading; must have evidence to back up their claims; and cannot be unfair. 
It is amazing to see the way that fashion increasingly evolves through technology. This concludes our series on the Business of Blogging.

Talk to us and let us know what you think on the business of blogging and the monetization of social media sites.

The Business of Blogging: Bloggers, Fashion Brands, and Retailers (Part 1)

Brian Grey-Yambao of BryanBoy Blog makes $100,000 annually
Today, there is a blog for just about anything from fashion and beauty to lonely Cheetos (random Cheetos left on the ground... no don't ask us and no shade from us either). It all starts with an interesting subject or hobby and some free time. But now, blogging is a full time gig and paying career for many people around the world. These bloggers form a relationship with retailers and fashion brands when they send the bloggers items to advertise, or send them to specific locations to blog on site and or make appearances. 

We even found some bloggers pulling in six figure incomes from so today's post is dedicated to the business of blogging. Now in fashion law form, we will definitely inform you of some of the laws that surround blogging such as defamation, endorsements, and advertisements- you can never be too careful. But we will leave that for part two of the business of blogging. Since blogging is a lucrative business for some of the one million blogs that exist, we want to highlight some of the highest paid bloggers.

 According to WWD, designers and fashion brands pay anywhere from $5000 to $50,000 to work with bloggers. 
  • First they choose a highly influential blogger, someone who's blog has major traffic and many followers and can drive millions of page views a month on the blog and on the brand's website
  • Then they send them the products in exchange for posting commentary and driving sales. Think: clothes, shoes, technology, and cosmetics.
    • Of course the blogger has to jazz up the look and is responsible for styling, hair, makeup, photography, art direction, retouching, copy writing, and posting, which WWD says takes a magazine 20 people to pull off. Therefore, it is going to cost the retailer or fashion brand.
    • Note: since the blogger is officially advertising products, they must follow FTC guidelines and make any and all endorsements "conspicuously and clearly" (found out more information in part two of our series).
  • Next is the optional stuff like hosting an event. This can cost up to $50,000. Think: airfare, hotel, and entertainment.
Now just who are some of these millionaire club bloggers? According to RewardStyle, a Dallas, Texas based invitation-only web tool that helps top tier style publishers find and monetize their content, the top five bloggers are:
The bloggers listed obviously do more than the "pay per click" advertisements. They are out and about making appearances at store openings and events. But there are rules and regulations that go along with endorsing fashion brands and retailers which we will cover tomorrow in part two of The Business of Blogging. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Dolce & Gabbana Not Guilty of Tax Evasion

Hot off their Instagram press, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbanna of Dolce and Gabbana have been found not guilty of tax evasion by the Italian Supreme Court of Justice.  Remember when we told you the the Italian fashion power house had been under a 6 year investigation for allegedly hiding millions of euros from Italian Tax Authorities and sentenced to 1 year and 8 months in jail? If you don't, then read the story here.

In celebratory fashion, D&G took to Instagram to post the great news saying they had always been honest, thanking the court.

Viva l'Italia!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy 2nd Anniversary Fashion Legallaire

September 19th marked Fashion Legallaire's actual 2nd year anniversary.We have been quite busy, but before the month of September ends, we would love to say happy Birthday to Us and thank you to our readers, subscribers, and supporters.

Thank you for every read, share, like, share, retweet, and g+. You all rock!

It is truly an honor and humbling privilege to write about one of my passions and share it on a global stage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dress like Olivia Pope with The Limited's Scandal Collection
My first impression of Ms. Olivia Pope had nothing to do with her character- a scandalous yet fierce professional woman who gets "it" done. But it had everything to do with her wardrobe. Her wardrobe quintessentially befits the fashionable woman who can work a courtroom, hold her own in Congress and the White House, while running her own business.

Episode after episode, Pope, played by Kerry Washington, kills the scenes with structured power moves. I can only assume that her wardrobe purposefully matches those power moves. Whether she has a client to fix or when she is working as presidential staff woman at the White House, Pope wears clean and structured pant or skirt suits with chic blouses. She is never less than stellar with or without a blazer. Although her outfits are the utmost professional, they are still stylish and fashionable making a business professional woman look stellar when she steps into the room.

Every time I watched Scandal, my eyes were closely fixated on what Pope wore. I wanted to see what she wore and how she put the pieces together. It is important to walk in a room and own it. In the legal world, it is important for a lawyer to look the part when he or she meets with his or her clients and or advocates for a client in the court room. Of course there are no hard rules to this type of fashion except to simply look professional.

Kerry Washington's Instagram 
For the woman who wants to Dress like Olivia Pope, she can! Starting this September, women can shop the "Scandal Collection" at The Limited. The line features some of the looks that Olivia Pope will be wearing on set and is created by Scandal costume designer Lyn Paolo and The Limited's head designer Elliot Staples. Kerry Washington even has input on the line. The 42 piece collection will range from $49 to $248.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Make the Stain #1: Did River Island Knock Off the Nike 5.0 v 4 Trainers?

As fashion celebrates a new year for spring and summer 2015 Fashion Legallaire is proud to announce the first ever "Make the Stain" edition.

River Island Instagram Account 
Make the Stain is akin to "spilling the tea."  As we spill the tea in the fashion world, we will point out some possible fashion knock-offs or copy cats.

Our first contenders are the River Island trainers verses the Nike 5.0 v 4. Check out the running trainers from River Island in black and leopard print. They look very similar to the Nike 5.0 v 4 trainers in black- right down to the outer sole. The only thing missing is the Nike check on the sides and the Nike tag on the tongue.

Price? The River Island trainers are $50, half the price of the Nike 5.0 v 4 trainers which cost $100.

Not really sure about the quality of the River Island trainers but the Nike trainers definitely is a great running shoe.

high shoe market

New Balance filed suit against Karl Lagerfield for knocking off his sneaker design. In this trademark case, NB claims that Karl's shoes causes confusion. You can read more of the story at TMZ.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Louboutin Loses Trademark for Red Soles in Belgium, Luxemborg, and the Netherlands

We all remember the Louboutin case against Yves Saint Laurent involving the fight for his trademark registration for his red soles right? Well Louboutin eventually won that case- after appealing. The U.S. court granted a ruling in Louboutin's favor meaning that the court used U.S. trademark laws to analyze the issue in order to reach its conclusion.

More recently, in March 2014, Louboutin challenged his registered trademark in a Belgium Court against Dutch retailer Van Dalen Footwear B.V., who also sold red soled shoes, and ended up losing his trademark. Conclusively, this ruling invalidated his trademark in Belgium, Luxemborg, and the Netherlands. The Judge followed Belgian Trademark Law that states a trademark that adds substantial value to a product is void. And since Louboutin's red soles substantially gives value to his shoes, his trademark is void. This reasoning sounds similar to the "functionality" prong of U.S. trademark law in regards to articles of clothing and the like- which reasons that it is illegal to make a monopoly on the functional, technical, or aesthetic value of a product. Truth be told, where would fashion be if the first person to create a pair of pants owned all the rights to create and sell a pair of pants? The fashion industry would be stifled and this is partially the reason why there is no current copyright protection for clothing (excluding fabric designs/patterns).

But wait; there's more. Back in 2012, Louboutin also lost his red soled trademark in France when he challenged fast retail merchant Zara. The French Court ruled that the red bottoms failed for lack of distinction.  Read the case here.

At this point you may be wondering how can the U.S. grant Louboutin's trademark valid while Belgium and France deny it as invalid. Well since there is no universal intellectual property law, every country can make its own laws as it applies to patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Therefore, it is very important for global fashioners to register his or her fashions in different countries paying attention to the applicable intellectual property laws. It is even more important to make sure that you have a watch dog to make sure that no one is infringing on your intellectual property rights.

Fashion Legallaire's Tip: Fashion Law is well established in Europe and definitely has more years as a profession than does the U.S. However, every country is different when it comes to intellectual property. But perhaps, Louboutin should possibly step his intellectual property game up and register for a design patent. A patent is more expensive, takes more time, but offers more protection. Design Patents can protect the way a product looks but the product must be of novel design. Louboutin may not have invented the red bottomed stiletto, but his influence definitely makes it of novel design. DVF did not invent the wrap dress but she has a design patent; so if she can, Louboutin can. For more information on design patents, read this earlier post here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fashionable Technology and Intellectual Property Rights

Fashionable or wearable technology is the new wave of right now and of the future. We can print in 3D, wear smart glasses, and even shop online with a personal stylist. In fact, e-commerce has taken the place of many traditional stores. Wearable technology is also evident in the merging of tech and fashion, two industries that we probably would not have ever put together until now. Intel Corp. is joining forces with influential brands in the fashion industry such as Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Opening Ceremony to explore the markets of smart, wearable technology that consumers would desire. Read more about the merge here.

As a Fashion Legallaire, I have to ask whether fashion technology is the crux that could help push copyright legislation for fashion.Of course technology has to be patented for its functionality and ingenuity, but my current research of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)  leads me to believe that just like fashion, copyrighting technology does more harm than good by stifling innovation, mainly through a misapplication of the DMCA law, and through a designer's fear of getting sued. Some experts really do think that copyright law hurts technology.
Zackees Turn Signal Glove (Zackees)

 To answer this question I spoke with Robert Burns Nixon, CFO and Board of  San Francisco Fashion Week Inc, the largest nonprofit fashion industry education and economic and development in California. If anyone knows a thing or two about wearable technology, Nixon is more than qualified. He works with different organizations and groups dedicated to the development and business of fashionable technology including Fashion Tech Week and SXSW, the world's preeminent music, film, and interactive stage.

Nixon says
The first approach for technology integration in luxury products may be to simply expand, extend or refresh the brand's signature fundamentals, but technology does allow a much broader area of design, development and new strategic partnerships which should add up to stronger and more defensible fashion "property" rights. I also belong to the Law of Fashion group here on Linkedin and they tend to have current and spirited coverage of recent legal developments and industry ramifications - however, I've yet to find any in depth fashion law discussion around the implications of wearable tech, which makes it one of the more interesting areas to watch!

He is absolutely correct. The merging of fashion and technology is definitely an interesting area to watch. It means more innovation and more jobs. For example, Femgineer highlights the importance of female engineers and women who code at e-commerce retailers such as ModCloth, to grow more leading ladies in tech.

If you want to see more fashion technology in your neighborhood then check out these upcoming national events:

1. Fashion Tech Week   Feb. 24 -Mar. 2  in San Francisco, CA
          *Features fashion, design and technology brands, leaders, startups, and strategic development events including Retail + Tech Summit, Wearable + Tech conference, and San Francisco Fashion Lab.

2. SXSW Accelorator Pitch Mar. 8-9 in Austin Texas
         *Interactive Week is Mar. 7-11; Music Week is 11-16; and Film Week is 7-15

3. Fashion Law Week Fashion Tech  Feb. 24 - March. 2 in Washington, D.C.
          * Learn about the law of fashion in a digital market place.