Thats right folks, its the time of year when we take a look back at all the top fashion law stories of 2013!
January- 2013 kicked off with the news that our favourite blonde fashionista Barbie had won against her rival, the Bratz doll. A court in California threw out a jury verdict against Mattel Inc, in the long running battle against MGA Entertainment, over the right to the pouty lipped Bratz fashion dolls. The Federal Appeals ruled that MGA should not have been allowed to present its trade secret claims against Mattel to the jury because they were not sufficiently related to Mattel’s original allegations.
February - We were all thankful for our freedom to choose our own hairstyle when we discovered the limited range of hairstyles on offer in North Korea- a new regulation dictated that just 28 hairstyles are legal in the country and only 18 of these styles are for women.
March - this was the month Marc Jacobs landed himself in trouble when it was discovered that the fake fur coats he was selling were in fact made of raccoon dog fur!
Also in March, Numero magazine was the centre of controversy and accused of racism when its ‘African Queen’ editorial in its March edition featured the blonde blue eyed model Ondria Hardin with her skin heavily darkened.
April- The fashion world was forced into action as the horrors of the Rana Plaza factory disaster unfolded. On 24 April an eight-story commercial building collapsed in Savar near the capital of Bangladesh. The search for the dead ended on 13 May with the death toll of 1,129. The factory produced clothes for many western retailers including Primark and Zara.
May - The bitter battle between two of France’s most successful luxury brands, LVMH and Hermès, heated up. The AMF, France’s Financial Regulator, confirmed that Hermès’ accusations against LVMH, that the luxury conglomerate had been quietly building its stake in the label for many years under different aliases, was true.
We also watched as model du jour Cara Delevingne was caught up in a cocaine scandal and former basketball superstar Michael Jordoan sued a Chinese sports clothing company for trademark infringement stemming from the use of the name Qiaodan – a Mandarin translation of Jordan.
In June we learned another lesson in Chinese trademarks as Philip Lim took an unusual route in trademark protection. Rather than giving in to trademark squatters, the designer introduced a dedicated brand mark for any ready-to-wear and footwear
But the biggest fashion law story of the month, and arguably the year, was that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were each sentenced to one year and eight months in prison after being found guilty of tax evasion. The Italian fashion duo were found to have evaded €416 million of tax. Authorities alleged that their sale of the Dolce & Gabanna and D&G brands in 2004 to a Luxembourg-based holding company, Gado Srl, was to evade higher corporate taxes in their home country of Italy.
July - All eyes were on popstar Rihanna as she won her legal battle with Topshop over a T-shirt bearing her image. The popstar had claimed sales of the shirt amounted to “passing off” and may have led to her reputation being tarnished with her fans, had they bought the garment thinking it was “genuine” endorsed merchandise with “an emotional connection to their heroine.” And the High Court agreed!
Controversial clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch also came under fire as France’s official human rights watchdog announced that it was investigating claims that A&F only employ good looking people at its flagship store in Paris. This, they believed, amounted to discrimination. The Defenseur des Droits watchdog cited in particular a 2006 interview with website salon.com in which Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said the company hires good-looking people to attract good-looking customers.
August - Louis Vuitton was in a spot of bother when a former staff member of Louis Vuitton’s Selfridges concession accused the store of sexism and racism in an employment tribunal.
We also learned that the defining fashion law case of Karen Millen v Dunnes Stores was heading back to the EU Courts. The case, involving the alleged copying of a jumper and two shirts, was the first case involving clothing to be taken under the community Unregistered Design Right regulation, which had come into effect across the EU in 2002.
September - Christian Louboutin was back in court, filing suit against the Belgian far right group ”Women against Islamisation” over an advertisement poster. The poster in question, entitled ‘Liberty or Islam?’ featured the legs of senator, former Miss Belgium, and anti-immigrant campaigner Anke Van Dermeersch wearing a pair of Louboutin shoes with the famous red soles.
Supermodels Naomi Campbell and Iman made waves as they identified the brands that they felt are failing to use models of colour. Iman named Victoria Beckham, Céline, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli, and Marc by Marc Jacobs as failing in her eyes.
A fashion week first happened when, for the first time in history, New York fashion week featured a plus sized fashion label. Cabiria, designed by Eden Miller, joined five other designers in a showcase presented by our good friends at the Fordham Fashion Law Institute, at the tents in the Lincoln Centre.
October - Wigs And Gowns pondered the perils of imposing copyright law on the tattoo industry over at the Westminster law review.
Child models finally got legal protection in New York and the Hells Angels filed another fashion trademark lawsuit again rapper Young Jeezy.
November - this was the month that saw Gucci lose its famous double G logo in the UK over lack of use and poor evidence! The lesson is clear – you need to use it or lose it!
Alexander McQueen was slapped with its second lawsuit this year concerning racism in the workplace. Moselle Blanco, a saleswoman at the brand’s New York flagship, says that she was the victim of ethnic slurs by store managers for over a decade. Members of management reportedly called her “burrito face” and “Goya princess”and then make light of her subsequent complaints.
The fashion law world rejoiced as Loyola Law School announced that they are launching the USA’s second fashion law institute in 2014! Law students will be able to get a certificate in fashion law by taking four fashion-specific courses including contracts and intellectual property. The Institute is also hoping to run a nine day ‘bootcamp’ in the summer of 2014 for those of us not lucky enough to attend Loyola law school.
December- H&M were forced to apologise for stealing a design from Swedish children’s book designer Camilla Lundsten. The retail giant only pulled the clothing after being named and shamed on social media and in the press!
Australian designer Kit Willow has spoken out about losing her eponymous fashion brand and the right to design under her own name – a lesson for all emerging designers!
So that brings an end to Wigs And Gowns 2013 review. Thanks for tuning in folks! We look forward to bringing you all the top fashion law stories in 2014 and wish you all a very Happy Christmas!