Using "Trade Dress" to Fight Cheap Knockoffs in Fashion
Fashion designers face a dilemma considering that their designs are immediately available to the world via the Internet and live streaming of fashion shows all over the world. This gives unscrupulous infringers and counterfeiters ample opportunity to “knock off” the brands, designs, handbags and fashions we see on the world’s many runways in record time. While U.S. law has been slow to afford protection for fashion designs per se, one way to combat piracy is to sue infringers for trade dress infringement, which refers to infringement of the “overall look and feel” of a product or the product’s packaging associated with particular brands of products. Christian Louboutin, for example, recently won its New York lawsuit and successfully validated its “red sole” shoe trademark for all shoes (with a few exceptions). As frequently discussed on this blog, it is important for all fashion designers to properly and consistently enforce their intellectual property rights – or risk losing them.