Fashion law roundup: Louis Vuitton-Penn showdown (of course); fired for .75" too much hip -> $75k; naked prince lookalikes, etc.
There's been so much fashion law news over the past few days that it's difficult to choose just a half-dozen stories for LAW OF FASHION's weekly roundup. But choose we must. Besides, you can catch up on the rest of this week's fashion law news at the official LAW OF FASHION LinkedIn group and on LOF's Twitter feed, @fashionlawblog. (You should also follow @CColmanLaw, by -- naturally -- this writer, one Charles Colman, Esq., for updates on legal news beyond the world of fashion.) And now... the few, the proud...
"On February 29th, one Michael Pantalony, Esq., 'Director of Civil Enforcement' at Louis Vuitton, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dean Michael Fitts of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, colloquially known as 'Penn Law.' The subject of the letter: a clever twist on a recognizable pattern, used on a flyer for a law student event where intellectual property protection for fashion (note the 'TM's and ©'s worked into the traditional LV pattern) is the very subject on the agenda...."
Okay, you can't blame LAW OF FASHION for linking to its own coverage of this particular debacle -- it's too close to LOF's heart. Thanks to those who picked up and/or linked to LOF's commentary on this story, including Above The Law, Harvard's Citizen Media Law Project, and especially Alison Frankel, of Reuters' always-informative "On The Case" blog, who was kind enough to call me up to chat about the LV-Penn showdown, and quoted me in her article on the dispute.
"In an unprecedented court case, the Dutch fashion model Ananda Marchildon, 25, went up against Elite, the most powerful agency in the business, and came out victorious. Marchildon had been promised €75,000 (about $100,000) when she won the Holland’s Next Top Model television competition in 2008. But Elite subsequently dismissed her, saying her hips were too big by two centimeters (3/4 of an inch). The court in the Netherlands ruled today [3/7/12] that Elite would have to pay her the remaining €65,000. Marchildon has been earning her living as a cabinetmaker since her modeling career was put on hold...."
The press had a field day with more model mishandling this week, in the form of Marc Jacobs' cringe-inducing comparison of sexualized underage runway models with child actors used to sell "peanut butter."
"Under-fire designer Alexander Wang denies claims of 'sweatshop-like conditions' at Chinatown factory" (The Daily Mail)
"Alexander Wang [has been] forced to defend itself against explosive claims that it ran a 'sweatshop' in Manhattan's Chinatown [and now] vow[s] to fight the $450 million lawsuit filed against the company by an ex-factory worker and more than two dozen others. The brand - favoured by celebrities and hankered after by fashionistas who flock to Mr. Wang's showy 4,000-square-foot flagship store in SoHo - said that it will challenge the claims that it flaunted a host of New York State labor laws and forced workers to operate in 'unfair conditions.'"
"The suit stems from a December 2009 promotion, which offered $25 gift cards for every $100 a customer spent in a single purchase. Abercrombie claims the cards were encased in sleeves with the expiration date Jan. 30, 2010. The retailer stopped accepting them on that date, denying uncounted furious tweens the chance to walk around with the company logo emblazoned on their chests...."
It seems A&F just can't stay out of trouble. The very same week the gift-card lawsuit landed, A&F company got more bad press for its alleged policy of punishing Italian employees with push-ups and squats, which UK's Telegraph noted was "not the first time the American company has been criticised for its strictly-enforced 'look policy.'" Indeed, A&F has gotten it into hot water both at home and abroad -- and has surely pissed off people with prosthetic limbs everywhere.
"After winning its trademark infringement case against the USPA, the apparel maker, now known as Ralph Lauren Corp., was denied its request for attorneys’ fees from the polo club. The decision comes nearly a year after New York federal judge Robert Sweet ruled that the USPA could not use a horse-and-rider symbol evocative of Polo’s famed logo in conjunction with the word 'polo' to mark its fragrances...."
"[IMG Model Yuliana] Bondar’s complaint [against LASplash Cosmetics] alleges that New York-based photographer and defendant David Byun contacted Major Models, Bondar’s then-agency, to have her appear for a photo shoot at George Brown Studio in New York. Bondar was never paid for the shoot, nor did she sign a release in connection with it.... Bondar’s fear about LASplash’s advertisements negatively affecting the possibility of being offered future cosmetics campaigns does seem to be warranted, as these contracts typically include exclusivity clauses [and if] Bondar is seen as the 'face' of LASplash, her ability to obtain a lucrative exclusive contract with another beauty brand could be seriously jeopardized."
LOF seems to have missed this story the first time around, and thanks FLC contributor Alexandra Simmerson for catching it. For a refresher on the so-called "right of publicity," check out this old chestnut from the LAW OF FASHION vault.
"For their 40th anniversary, [Cosmopolitan UK] found lookalike models [of] Prince William and Prince Harry in their birthday suits [and ran a photo purportedly for the sake of] raising awareness on prostate and testicular cancer for the Everyman charity...."
This story reminds LOF of another lookalike/"false endorsement" situation that turned into a lawsuit -- Kim Kardashian v. Old Navy -- discussed in this LAW OF FASHION post. KiKard apparently wanted to ensure that her identity was associated only with products worthy of her... only to get sued when she went with "QuickTrim," an apparently bogus weight-loss aide. LOF is guessing that Old Navy isn't looking so bad right about now...
Well, then, until next time... By the way, if you missed my fashion law panel this past Thursday, don't worry -- you'll have at least three more opportunities over the next several weeks to hear me bloviate:
Thursday, April 25th, 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. (NYC) - "The Margins of Copyright Law," organized by the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School. Details forthcoming.
Late April (exact date/time TBD): I, Charles Colman, will be moderating a fashion law panel at the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), tentatively featuring Marc Jacobs Associate General Counsel Kelly Koyama and other notable panelists TBA.
[This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship among any individuals or entities. Any views expressed in this post or at the linked web pages are those of the writer on a particular date, and should not necessarily be attributed to this writer, his law firm, or its clients. LAW OF FASHION does not and cannot warrant the thoroughness or accuracy of the content at the linked web pages.]