Walking the streets of your neighborhood, you pass by several people wearing clothing with Nike ‘swooshes’ or other recognizable brand’s logos or slogans. When your friend tells you she has an authentic “Coach” purse she bought in an alley on a shady side street, you wonder if the Coach ‘C’ is distorted or on point. Another friend is wearing a red shirt that says “I’m INSPI(RED). Hoping she actually is inspired, you are left with no “GAP” in knowledge, realizing that the shirt was purchased at the mall down the street.
We may not be as big as Nike (yet…let’s say yet), but we have the same rights to protect our intellectual property, especially our fashion and clothing branding creations. In a world of creativity, there is no possible way to police all clothing or clothing related items. I’ve seen t-shirts being sold with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that were blue and ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ shirts that left me anything but calm.
It’s not funny when someone is or will be profiting from creations you made. Intellectual property infringement regarding fashion has been an issue since brands emerged in the 19th century. A trademark attorney at Mohr IP Law can help you protect your fashion related creations by conducting a trademark search, filing your trademark, and protecting you from any present or future trademark infringements. Below are some examples of fashion related trademark cases that bring light to these issues.
Just Bring It
When seeking a fashion trademark, one must not infringe on a trademark that already exists. Nike for example discovered that the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) decided to use the slogan “JUST BRING IT.” While I think it sounds different than “JUST DO IT,” Nike has had a successful history of stopping similar statements on articles of clothing, bags, etc. They attest that “JUST BRING IT” “…will inevitably lead to confusion, to mistake, or to deception of the public … all to [Nike’s] grave and irreparable damage.” The Portland, Oregon-based sportswear giant further claims that the “registration of [WWE’s] mark is likely to cause dilution of [Nike’s] JUST DO IT Mark, to the injury of [Nike], by diluting the distinctiveness of its JUST DO IT Mark and lessening the capacity of its JUST DO IT mark to identify and distinguish its goods and services” ”Source: http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/nike-opposes-world-wrestling-entertainments-just-bring-it-trademark
In 2004, the Apprentice on NBC was popular and so was watching Donald Trump fire people in a cold board room as he looked into their eyes and with one hand pushed them off and away. Because of such popularity of the show and ultimately the phrase, Trump’s legal team filed a trademark application for “You’re Fired. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/2004-03-19-youre-fired_x.htm. The goal was to trademark the expression for clothes, casino services (whatever that entails), and board games. Long story short Bloomingdales did not have to stop selling “You’re Fired” shirts for $36 dollars and up. http://www.contactmusic.com/donald-trump/news/trump.s-bid-to-copyright-.you.re-fired.-shot-down At Mohr IP Law in addition to filing trademarks, we do trademark searches.
Paris Hilton was able to successfully trademark “That’s hot” for not just shirts but for other non-fashion related items. In an unlikely 2007 case against Hallmark, she won a settlement when Hallmark mocked her old reality show The Simple Life with a caption on a card that read, “Paris’s First Day as a Waitress” and made a pun on her trademarked catch phrase, “That’s Hot.” As seen below, not only is the trademarked phrase used, the drawing accurately depicts Hilton-well as accurately as a cartoon can portray a partying heiress.
This Sick Beat
Phillip Caulfield of the New Work Daily News explained in an article last year that trademarks granted can include more than just clothing and phrases that go beyond a company’s one slogan, tagline, or phrase. Caulfield highlights singer Taylor Swift’s success at trademarking. “Nice to meet you, where you been”, “could show you incredible things”, “this sick beat”, “party like it’s 1989” and “cause we never go out of style” are all trademarks filed and owned by Swift’s legal team. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/taylor-swift-trademarks-sick-beat-1989-terms-article-1.2096022
I’m sorry if what I wrote made you start singing out loud. Or maybe I’m not sorry. Why would Swift or anyone (celebrity or not) want a trademark? While you may not have merchandise or as many followers as Swift, anyone besides you without a trademark may be able to cash in on your creations by printing your name, phrase, slogan etc. on their own items and selling it. It doesn’t stop with clothing either. In Swift’s case for example, her trademarks protect others from selling her trademarked phrases on soaps, accessories, removable tattoos, whips, harnesses, and saddlery. https://trademarks.justia.com/owners/swift-taylor-1396036/page3
Mohr IP Law files trademarks for clothing brands, t-shirt producers, fashion designers, celebrities, and brilliant everyday people. If you have a trademark you would like to file, contact our trademark attorneys discuss your options.