Festive Glitz, Glamour & Italian Made Shoes!

This week’s post sees Isabelle Bennett report on a Christmas fashion event hosted at Taylor Vinters’ office on the 33rd floor of Tower 42 in London, featuring comments from the organiser: Taylor Vinters’ employment law partner, Anita Rai.

For an overview of the event including an insight into some new exciting brands promoted by Kari C and The Collective, along with some last minute Christmas shopping inspiration, read on!

Kari C & The Collective

Taylor Vinters recently hosted a Christmas festive social event at its London office for a new and exciting client, Kari C.

Kari is a luxury shoe designer who creates beautiful bespoke shoes and who also has a ready to wear range.

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Beautifully crafted bespoke shoes by Kari C

A range of existing and prospective clients and intermediaries, as well as some existing Tower 42 residents were invited along to the event.

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Luxury silk scarves by Sila Dora inspired by artists’ prints

There was a great show of  guests who were able to meet, network and speak to the designers about their products.

Attendees also had the opportunity to buy luxury goods (shoes, jewellery, perfume and skincare) from The Collective, which is group made up of new and exciting designers promoted by Kari.

Anita says

Anita Rai, who organised the event said…

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Anita Rai, employment law expert, who also has a shoe collection to die for!

“I met Kari at one of the events run by the Sorority and felt that we instantly clicked. I loved her story as to how she had gone from trader to shoe designer.

At Taylor Vinters, we love to support budding entrepreneurs and grow with them supporting them along their journey. We decided to co-host a festive drinks and give Kari and her fellow designers a chance to show case their products.

It was a lot of fun and (obviously to support the cause!) I just had to purchase a pair of her divine shoes too!”

Attendees included people from Brainjuicer, Accenture, Brooke Roberts, McCann Fitzgerald, Armour Risk Management, Menzies, Wilson Wright and City of London Corporation.

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A shoe view!

More on The Collective by Kari C

The Collective is a group of independent designers, skin care specialists and perfumers who are promoted by Kari C and whose products are stocked at her boutique in Beauchamp Place.  All products are of the highest quality and ooze luxury and class!

Evelin Vock

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Eye catching embroidery by Evelin Vock

Amongst the many talented and quirky clothing designers, was  Evelin Vock, a luxury women’s wear designer, whose brand focuses on outerwear.

Inspired by Nature’s beauty, no animal products are used in Evelin Vock’s designs, who is also an active supporter of PETA.  Using bright stitching and intricate unique designs, Evelin’s work is hard to miss!

Bruno Acampora Profumi

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Perfumery by Bruno Acampora Profumi, inspired by memories & experiences of countries, cities & cultures

As well as shoes, clothing and accessories, The Collective shows impeccable taste in beauty products.  Also attending the event at Taylor Vinters were perfumers Bruno Acampora Profumi.

Bruno uses his memories and experiences of countries, cities and cultures to produce beautiful fragrances, which are also stocked in Kari’s Beauchamp Place boutique.

Love Opulance

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Jewellery by Love Opulance

Love Opulence, a jewellery business inspired by the founder’s love for travel and fashion also came along to the event.  Love Opulence began life as a successful fine jewellery business in the depths of the Caribbean.

Paying close attention to detail, quality and finish, Love Opulence plays with colour, crystals, pearls and semi precious stones to bring to the table a range of stunning and unique jewellery.

FTL verdict

A great night was surely had by all. For further insight into The Collective’s designers as featured above, head down to Kari’s shop and check out the beautiful pieces showcased in store.

Thanks to our guest blogger Issy for her excellent report on the event and for the fab photos she snapped on the night!

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Issy Bennett, photographer, blogger and lover of a vintage handbag or two!

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Data Protection – Considerations for Online Brands

The popularity of shopping online has undoubtedly made buying your favourite shoes or handbag even easier, but the ever-growing list of considerations for brands has only gotten longer! One of the main headaches is data protection.

For brands with an online presence already, or those just starting out online, a key consideration should be keeping your customers’ data safe.

Shops

Could online shopping be the end of the traditional experience?

What do I need to know?

In the UK, the Data Protection Act 1988 (DPA) contains certain obligations that anyone processing personal data must comply with. On your website, personal data will be things like your customer’s name, date of birth, address and so on. As the owner of a brand operating online, you may be considered the data controller under the DPA, and therefore the one responsible for protecting the data!

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Always know whether you are responsible for keeping data secure!

One of your top priorities, regardless of whether you are a data controller or data processor, should be ensuring you have privacy and cookie policies displayed clearly on your site.

What’s a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy simply sets out what you will do with the customer data you have collected. Before gathering data, you should make customers aware of why you need this. A wise move would be to ensure you have a privacy policy clearly visible on your website, explaining to customers what data you are collecting and why.

Data should only be collected for a lawful purpose (so for the processing of those new orders flowing in!) and you should make sure you tell customers when you make any changes to why you are collecting the data.

Shopping cart area

Don’t forget to let your customers know why you are collecting their data, as well as saying “thank you” for the purchase!

You always need to ensure you collect the data securely too, and don’t keep this for longer than needed.

If you send or plan on sending marketing emails (those wonderful discount emails), you should mention this in your policy.

What’s a Cookies Policy?

Cookies are text files implanted onto customers’ hard drives, which enable you to collect information about the person such as their name, address and user preferences. You can then tailor and personalise their shopping experience, and remove annoying tasks such as requiring a customer to re-enter their details before they can shop again. That way they can shop hassle free and even faster!

Cookies

We love cookies!

Cookies can therefore be a really valuable way of finding out about your customers, and encouraging them to return to spend more! You must however make sure you get consent from your customers for the use of cookies, and so a clear cookies policy on your website is a must. This needs to explain why you are using cookies and note that customers always have to opt-in.

Don’t forget about your employees!

You should also remember that data protection applies to employees too! To help guide us through the key data protection considerations for employers and employees, I have asked Razia Begum (our super Senior Associate, specialising in employment law, at Taylor Vinters) to answer some questions that commonly crop up.

An interesting fact about Razia is that not only is she a fantastic employment lawyer, but she also completed a course in fashion design and marketing at prestigious fashion college, Central St Martins – who could therefore be better placed to talk about this?!

Razia-Begum

Introducing Razia Begum, Employment Law Extraordinaire!

FTL: So Razia, what are the main risks we should be aware of?

Razia: In this day and age data is increasingly centralised and managed digitally. Staff data (including financial and sensitive personal data), which is often not adequately protected by employers, may be more susceptible to falling into the wrong hands and being distributed for the wrong reasons.

Employers have a positive obligation to look after employees’ data and a data breach could prove costly. It may also lead to considerable reputational damage and embarrassment for the company.

If a breach does occur employees may also be able to bring claims such as breach of privacy, confidentiality and data protection law. The success of claims such as these relies largely on the degree of financial loss suffered by an employee as a result of the breach.

FTL: What should employers do?

Razia: They should set up effective data protection and fraud prevention (in relation to confidential data as well as revenue) policies, which are implemented and enforced as required. The processes and procedures within such policies should also tie into the organisation’s HR policies and provide for regular awareness training, for example, the key dos and don’ts of compliant big data usage.

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Employee data security is key!

Companies should also ensure they have appropriate policies in place in respect of “bring your own devices” (or BYOD) and remote working if applicable, as both of these can significantly increase the chances of a data breach.

FTL: Thanks Razia, for the stellar input! Lots to consider when looking after your employees’ data.

FTL Round-up

Although the focus should be on prevention rather than cure, in a digital world where online shopping is the norm, breaches are unfortunately almost inevitable, however big or small. Brands should also therefore have robust emergency response plans in place ready for execution should a data breach occur.

Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street

Online shopping is great, but you can’t beat the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street – or maybe that’s just me!

Data protection can be a mind-boggling subject and this post only highlights a few key taster points! So for more information on data protection feel free to get in touch via the contact me page.

“SNAP!” Says Lacoste

Does anyone remember the kiddie card game SNAP!? Perhaps not if you’re a digital native – maybe it was just an 80’s thing!

Well all of this nostalgia got me to thinking about a recent trade mark opposition from Lacoste against Eugenia Mocek, Jadwiga Wenta KAJMAN Firma Handlowo-Usługowo-Produkcyjna (phew!), we’ll just refer to them as the Applicant to save space, for their application to register KAJMAN as a logo in the shape of a crocodile. Perhaps not a SNAP! But surely similar?

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SNAP! or just similar?

Background

Here’s what the earlier 2004 Lacoste Community Trade Mark looks like…

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Lacoste’s croc trade mark.

…and here’s the KAJMAN mark, which was applied for on 1st February 2007 for purses, handbags, leather goods, footwear, and clothing (amongst other things):

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The KAJMAN logo.

The Lacoste mark, funnily enough, was also registered for things like purses, handbags, leather goods, footwear and clothing (to name but a few goods).

I’m sure you’d agree that the goods for which Lacoste’s croc is registered and the goods which came under the KAJMAN application are extremely similar!

What happened next?

Not wanting to roll over on this one, Lacoste wrestled with the Applicant and opposed the KAJMAN application with full biting force in May 2008 on the basis that:

  • the co-existence of the two marks would be confusing to the general public, in that one mark may be confused with the other (Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation No 207/2009 for all you law geeks out there); and
Lacoste 5

Creating public confusion!

A decision

What did the powers that be have to say about this SNAP! happy fight? Surprisingly the Opposition Division rejected Lacoste’s opposition saying the marks were visually and phonetically different, that they had low conceptual similarity and Lacoste’s mark wasn’t overly distinctive in nature. It was therefore decided that no likelihood of confusion existed.

It was also noted that Lacoste did not provide enough evidence to support its point on the KAJMAN mark taking unfair advantage of the earlier registered mark, therefore damaging the reputation of the Lacoste brand.

Decisions

Decisions…decisions!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, yes, they are extremely similar, and yes of course Lacoste should appeal this decision…

Let’s appeal!

Lo and behold! Lacoste did exactly that in December 2010.

The Board of Appeal partly upheld Lacoste’s appeal saying a likelihood of confusion existed in relation to leather goods, purses, bags, footwear and clothing. Hurrah, at long last, the Board of Appeal had seen sense! Or perhaps not…

The Board of Appeal went on to dismiss Lacoste’s view, agreeing with the Opposition Division, that allowing KAJMAN to be registered would create an unfair advantage and potentially cause damage to Lacoste’s brand. So only half of the battle was won!

Lacoste 1

Not quite game, set and match!

Recent news

On the 30th September this year, after further Lacoste and KAJMAN snipes, the General Court said that there was a likelihood of confusion between Lacoste’s croc and KAJMAN in relation to those goods listed above. They based their decision on the following factors:

  • the signs were conceptually similar;
  • the Lacoste mark had acquired a highly distinctive character for leather goods (class 18), clothing and footwear (class 25) through use (finally the Court is in agreement!); and
  • there was a likelihood of confusion that the public would believe that the goods had come from the same organisation, or were at least linked, with regards to classes 18 and 25.

The Court did however note that there was low visual similarity between the marks aside from the fact both represented a crocodile. Similarly, the marks were not held to be phonetically similar.

What does this tell us?

Despite the lack of any real visual similarity between the marks, Lacoste had built up a significant reputation with regards to goods such as leather bags, and as such had acquired a distinctive character for these, but as always EVIDENCE OF USE IS KING!

Lacoste 4

Always always ALWAYS remember to keep records of use!

The marks were also conceptually similar, based primarily on the fact they were both representations of a crocodile.

The FTL verdict

So reputation through use can ultimately be key, just ensure you keep this evidence stored for a rainy day and don’t fall foul of Lacoste’s initial error by not producing enough evidence in support of any oppositions!

Lacoste 3

A Lacoste 1970s vintage original. because we love vintage!

Crocs away!

For more information on trade marks, see my last post “Hey! Hands off my IP (Trade Marks)” here.

HUGE thanks go to Laura Rose for her help researching this case and to Issy Bennett for her creative input!

Hey! Hands off my IP! (Trade Marks)

For the next few months, in-between the regular Fash Tech Lawyer news and gossip, I thought it might be useful for all of you budding designers out there hoping to turn your start-up fashion business into a fashion power house of the future, to list my top tips for protecting your intellectual property.

In this series of “Hey! Hands off my IP!” posts, I will give an insight into what IP rights are, how you can use them to protect your business and why you should!

These designers built their brands around their names, can you guess who they all are?

These designers built their brands around their names, can you guess who they all are?

IP – what’s all the fuss about?

Why do I think this is important? Well, being in the creative industry your most valuable assets can often be your intellectual property. What’s intellectual property I hear you cry?! A house of our own that us Londoners can only dream of? Nope! Intellectual property, or IP as it’s more fondly known, is a collection of intangible property rights that come about as a result of intellectual effort – so get those cogs turning! IP can be things like trade marks, copyright, design rights, confidential information, trade secrets and patents.

Trade marks

Fashion brands such as Chanel, Burberry and Louboutin all share something in common, their brands are king! So naturally they would want to protect them. One of the best ways to do this in the early stages, is to register a trade mark for your brand’s name and/or logo.

Be smart like these fashion power houses and be sure to protect your brand name and logo as registered trade marks!

Be smart like these fashion power houses and be sure to protect your brand name and logo as registered trade marks!

So what’s a trade mark? The terms “trade mark” and “brand” are often used interchangeably. Both can refer to a sign which distinguishes the goods, or services, of one trader from those of another. Trade marks are used to help customers identify goods or services as originating from you. A registered trade mark is infringed if it is used without its owner’s permission, so the owner of the mark has a monopoly over its use for the goods and/or services for which it is registered. This monopoly can be maintained forever!

Okay, so you’ve explained what a trade mark is. Why do I need one for my fashion business? 

Once you have decided on a name for your brand, protect it! It’s very tempting for competitors to start using a similar brand name to yours to try and ride off your success, particularly as your brand grows and becomes more successful. I wrote about the retailer VoQuE attempting to use VOGUE’s name on my last post here. Take a look for a prime example!

If I want to protect my brand’s logo, what should my first step be?

You’ll first need to see if there are any identical or similar marks to the name you are thinking of using. Although it’s perfectly possible to carry out a simple online search to see what’s out there, this might not catch everything. The best thing to do is to instruct a lawyer or trade mark attorney to carry out and report on detailed searches for you, known as Clearance Searches.

A clearance search needn't be long and winding! Enlist the help of a lawyer or trade marks attorney to set you on your way!

A clearance search needn’t be long and winding! Enlist the help of a lawyer or trade mark attorney to set you on your way!

What happens if I don’t carry out a search?

If you go ahead and use a name without first doing a clearance search, you can certainly run into problems. I’ve seen situations where businesses choose what they think is a unique name, only to be slapped with a nasty letter from someone who already owns that name! Or worse, they’ve been trading for a number of years, stacked up a tidy sum in assets, and the owner of the registered mark then sues them for infringement, and they lose everything.

What do I do next?

The next step would be applying! If you think here in the UK is your main market, but you hope to expand into other European countries and eventually the U.S.A. (for example), then think about applying for a Community Trade Mark (CTM) first and foremost. This will protect your brand in all 28 Member States and can be cheaper than registering your mark in multiple countries as and when you decide to trade there.

What if I start trading in different countries outside of the EU?

You will need to make separate applications for this and the hurdles for getting this through to registration in the U.S.A (for example) can be quite high! For instance, you will need to prove use or intent to use in the U.S.A. This can be quite difficult to do, but if you already have a national registration or a CTM, the hurdles can be a little easier to jump! What’s more, if you decide that within 6 months of your initial application, you are ready to take on a U.S.A. adventure, you will be granted what’s called a ‘priority period’ if claiming priority in your application. This means that when your U.S.A. application is approved and that mark registered, the U.S.A. mark will be deemed to have been registered from the date you initially applied for your CTM or national registration. Bonus!

Where will your trade marks take you?!

Where will your trade marks take you?!

What are classes?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back to school and take one – classes in the trade marks sense categorise goods and services for which the mark is registered. You will need to consider what goods and/or services, covered by these classes, you want to use your trade mark for. Typical classes for the fashion industry are class 25 for clothing footwear and headgear; and class 35 to advertise your goods for sale, but these are just a few. There are a number of classes available and a full list can be viewed here. Which classes you choose may largely depend on your brand, so always seek specialist advice from a lawyer or trade mark attorney before going ahead and selecting them.

How do I actually apply?

Most applications can be made online and there will be a fee to pay to the relevant IP office you are applying to. An examiner will then assess your application and if he or she is happy with it, will publish it for people to view and oppose (see warning above!). If you’ve had proper clearance searches carried out you shouldn’t have any oppositions and your trade mark will be entered on the relevant trade marks’ registry within a matter of months. Happy days!

Don't just stand around looking pretty like this Valentino model, get applying!

Don’t just stand around looking pretty like this Valentino model, get applying!

What’s a watch service?

All of this is no good if once registered, someone starts infringing your mark and you don’t pick up on it! For a small fee, most lawyers and trade mark attorneys will offer a watch service, where, by the power of highly intelligent software, any marks that appear online or that are applied for in territories of interest to you that are slightly similar to your mark will be reported to you. Well worth doing!

The moral of the story

Carry out full and proper clearance searches on any name you plan to use, protect your brand early on by applying to register a trade mark, and always keep a watch out!

Don't forget to keep a watch out!

Don’t forget to keep a watch out!

For more information on how to protect your IP, contact me!

Battle of the Cities – NYFW or LFW?

Only one more sleep to go until the 62nd London Fashion Week! This week’s FTL post features ones to watch for the London Spring/Summer 2016 collections and gives a summary of New York Fashion Week’s highlights. Which do you think will come out on top? LFW or NYFW?!

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Let the countdown begin!

Dig the new breed

London effortlessly challenges its rival global counterparts during fashion week, showing some of the most commanding creative flair in the world. Amongst its staple brands treading the boards, like Burberry and Christopher Kane, there is a new breed of designers, so fresh they only recently showed their graduate collections. Those that have attracted the talent-scouts graduated from Central Saint Martins just last year, such as South London-based Caitlin Price, who also won the Armani scholarship and Richard Malone (featured below).

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Great British heritage brand Burberry, showcasing a pastel inspired finale.

NYFW highlights

But who can argue with the feat of NYFW, closing today, which has generated 900 million dollars in revenue, drawing in over 200,000 people. Highlight of the week was the Oscar de la Renta timeless elegance show, which was the fashion power house’s second collection following the death of its founder. Pieces included Spanish-inspired suits, ball-gowns and cocktail dresses from its creative director, British-born Peter Copping. The designer used bold floral prints, crimson palettes, lavish lace and abundant ruffles to create a truly classic de la Renta collection. Lowlight, personally, was Kanye West for Adidas idly named “Yeezy Season 2”. The military-inspired assortment was made up of nude and neutral-coloured hoodies, bodysuits and loose-fitting trousers, which drew many parallels with his last collection. Not only has this all been done before, it was done last season by the man himself! Time to give up the game Kanye!

Oscar de la Renta

Classic de la Renta – pure poetry!

Topshop partners with Pintrest

This week in London we will see Topshop team up with Pintrest to launch “Pintrest Palettes”. The savvy high street store is renown for its social media campaigns. The partnership will enable UK and US Pintrest users to create a custom colour palette based on Spring/Summer 2016 key colours via Topshop.com.

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Which Pintrest colour palette will you be this season?

LFW ones to watch

There’s so much jaw-dropping talent showcased during LFW, but for me it’s the new kids on the block that can be the most inspiring. FTL’s “ones to watch” are:

Richard Malone, graduating from Central Saint Martins last year with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion, he has already attracted attention from the fashion industry’s big-wigs. In 2013 his graduate collection was supported by the Grand Prix LVMH scholarship and he will show his collection as part of the Topshop-sponsored Fashion East collective this week. The label’s aesthetic has to date stemmed from structured silhouettes with contrasting hound’s-tooth fabrics and bold stripes. Pieces in Malone’s graduate collection invoked a 70s vibe with both cropped and bell-bottom flares on show. I’m excited to see what delights the upcoming collection will bring this week.

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Good luck to our new-comers on their debuts, the Frow be with you!

This is the Uniform’s Jenna Young is a fine arts textiles graduate of London’s Goldsmiths University. She worked in the luxury textiles industry for three years before launching her own label in 2013. Young also worked in fashion styling, and it was via this experience that her designs came to the attention of British Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers. The designer will also début as part of Fashion East this week. Young’s signature style is luxurious fabrics, no doubt stemming from her background. I predict plentiful silk organza and natural fabrics.

Marta Jakubowski completed the Masters of Arts program at the Royal College of Art and has already worked with the likes of Alexander Wang, Bruno Pieters, Hussein Chalayan, and Jonathan Saunders before embarking on her own label last year. In December 2014, the designer was chosen to show her Autumn 2015 collection for the British Fashion Council’s NewGen scheme. Wide velvet and cotton trousers in bold colours have played a key theme in Jakubowski’s collections to date. I’m hoping for a clever use of fabric and texture in her Spring/Summer 2016 collection.

JS collage

A personal FTL favourite – the Matlock established John Smedley, here’s to the northerners!

The veteran luxury British brand, John Smedley, and a long-time love of mine, is finally launching an out-and-out women’s wear collection. This I have to say, I am very excited about! Pip Jenkins, head designer of the John Smedley women’s range, said the collection will include “a lot of lighter, sheer fabrics designed for layering, and cuts that feature wrap and split detailing designed to drape and flatter the female form.” A new direction for the staple knitwear brand, which I’m sure to be raiding the Brook Street store for post show!

FTL verdict

For me, London always comes out on top, perhaps I’m biased, perhaps I just think the standard is higher. If NYFW dropped the dead-wood and focused more on emerging innovative talent, rather than Kanye and his entourage I might have a different opinion.

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LFW SS16 kicks off on Friday 18th September leaving its old premises, Somerset House, behind to make a new home at the art-deco Brewer Street Car Park in Soho.

One thing’s for sure, London’s collective of burgeoning talent, both veterans and newcomers, are guaranteed to bring something new and exciting to the trends of Spring/Summer 2016. Let the count-down begin!

NAT-A-PORTER NO MORE!

The shock-resignation of Natalie Massenet from Net-A-Porter, just before the merger with Yoox Group was due to take place, has sent shock-waves through the fashion industry!

Starting out

Massenet’s start-up story is a familiar one. Founding the company in her spare room in 2000, the ultimate Fash Tech entrepreneur saw a gap in the market for an online platform supplying luxury fashion. This led to the birth of Net-A-Porter and forever changed the way we shop online!

Massenet is an American-born former journalist who began working for Women’s Wear Daily and Tatler, which is where her idea of an e-commerce website in a magazine format began. However, the glitz and glamour of the early stage setup was not so high-brow, as Massenet initially stacked the signature Net-A-Porter black packaging in her bath! How times have changed!

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Perhaps Natalie’s bathtub will no longer look so rosy!

In Natalie’s words

So what happened? In her own words this week, Massenet gave us an insight into her decision, saying:

“The completion of Net-a-Porter Group’s merger with Yoox Group is the right time for me to move on to explore new ideas and opportunities…The business I started in 2000 could not be in better shape today. Having joined forces with Yoox Group, the company will be bigger, stronger and superbly well positioned under Federico Marchetti’s leadership to lead the industry and create the future of fashion. As a continuing loyal customer I will be excited to see the next chapter for this amazing business.”

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So long Natalie!

The FTL verdict

Is this really such a surprise? Well, given the fashionista’s position following the merger was to be restricted to an editorial and communications role, perhaps it’s not completely unexpected!

If all had gone to plan, Ms Massenet would have become the executive chairman while Mr Marchetti stepped into the chief executive role. To add fuel to the fire, over lunch with the Financial Times in May this year Mr Marchetti was quick to clarify where the power would lie. There was to be only one boss, he said, “And that’s me”.

Marchetti

In the wise-words of the Godfather of Soul: “Paid the cost to be the Boss!”

Yet to be seen is how the merger between these two rivals will work in practice, in a marketplace that has become increasingly crowded and competitive. For example, is it business-savvy to retain The Outnet, Net-A-Porter’s cut-price site that directly rivalled Yoox? Most definitely not, but which of the two will bite the dust?! There are many questions surrounding what the future holds for Yoox-A-Porter (by the way, I highly doubt this will be the new branding!), but what’s certain is that the new group will have to act decisively to retain shareholder confidence.

Both companies have faced mounting pressure from new businesses entering the luxury e-commerce space, as well as from traditional brands beginning to sell their products online to consumers directly. With big brands reeling from the ongoing economic slowdown in China, and the feeling that the days of rapid expansion are behind them, the mood of the luxury industry, as a whole, is far from sanguine.

NAP bag

Will the branding change post merger?

Also, despite Ms Massenet’s diplomatic statement, it looks like this was a rather contentious departure: Bloomberg reports that Massenet leaves with over £100 million ($153 million) after the sale of shares in her company. The Financial Times reported that the sum came as a result of a dispute over the value of the Net-A-Porter Group that led to her quitting.

The FTL concludes a trouble at the mill scenario, what other explanation could there be for such a sudden departure?!

Do you know what really caused this turn of events? Do you have an opinion on the matter? If so, we’d love to hear from you via the comments box below!

IN VOQUE?

VOGUE versus VOQUE, “strike a pose VOGUE, VOQUE, VOGUE…”

I know what you’re thinking…it’s only her second week and Fash Tech Lawyer has committed the blogger’s cardinal sin, a typo! Or not…

As I sit here bleary eyed after a looooooong night reviewing a laborious software agreement and sipping a double espresso, I find myself having to double take. Am I going mad? Am I seeing this right? Does that say “VOQUE or VOGUE“?!

Vogue collage

Vintage Vogue from June 1950 (left) and Christmas 1985 (right).

Condé Nast’s opposition

VoQue Limited is a wholesale fashion company with a UK registered office. The company is two years old and reported a 2014 turnover of £10,000.

In September 2013 it applied to register the logo below as a UK trade mark for leather goods; clothing, footwear and headgear. As we know from the Louis Vuitton case (posted here last week), once a trade mark is registered, it will enjoy a presumption of validity until challenged. However, sadly for VoQue it didn’t get that far…

VoQue

No longer “Queen V”!

Hot on VoQue’s heels, the fashion bible VOGUE was not too happy about this and quickly opposed the VOQUE application in December 2013.

Condé Nast, which owns VOGUE, said that the VOQUE mark:

• is confusingly similar to VOGUE, and if registered or even used, would take unfair advantage of VOGUE’s success (if you’re really interested, the relevant law can be found under Section 5(2) (b) and 5(3) of the Trade Marks Act 1994); and
• would cause misrepresentation and damage to the holier than thou publication under Section 5(4)(a) of the Act!

VoQue bites back

In response to this, VoQue said:

• VOQUE and VOGUE carry out totally different activities;
• the typeface used by the VOQUE mark is completely different to the VOGUE mark; and
• VOQUE means “evoke” or “awaken” in French and is different to VOGUE’s “fashionable” or “popular” meaning.

Drum roll please….and it was decided…

No surprises, Condé Nast’s opposition was upheld. Nice try VoQue!!

In July 2015 a decision in favour of the fashionistas’ handbook said:

• the two marks are confusingly alike and have an overall degree of visual, aural and conceptual similarity; and
• VOGUE is distinctive given its reputation and the fact it is not entirely descriptive when used on the iconic publication.

Founded in 1892, Vogue has been at the forefront of fashion publications for well over 100 years! This example is from the 1920s Art Deco era.

Founded in 1892, Vogue has been at the forefront of fashion publications for well over 100 years! This example is from the 1920s Art Deco era.

The application for the VOQUE mark was therefore dismissed and VoQue Limited was ordered to pay the costs incurred by Condé Nast.

The decision also noted:

• the fact that VoQue’s mark has a large crown element around the letter “Q” does not matter, as the average shopper would not see it as sufficiently different;
• the word “Vogue” is a well-known English word meaning “in fashion” and when used in relation to leather goods and clothing, for which the VOQUE mark was registered, alludes to such goods being “of the moment”, which draws parallels between the two marks; and
• the typeface used by VoQue is not unusual, in fact, Condé Nast would be well within their rights to use their VOGUE mark in the same style.

Interestingly, had VoQue managed to slip this one past VOGUE (unlikely!) thereby obtaining registration status, only for VOGUE to then challenge the registered mark at a later date, VOQUE would have been revoked (ironic huh, or just a really bad joke!?)!

Final thought

After reading the case first and foremost, I’m pretty pleased I don’t need my eyes testing, but the lesson to learn from all of this is that it’s risky business basing your branding on a similar, earlier and well established registered mark. There’s only one VOGUE!

Jean-Genious! Levi and Google develop jeans that text

Fashion and tech continue to merge in thrilling ways. One of the most exciting has been born out of a recent collaboration between Levi Strauss and Google.

Levi Strauss is not well-known for its tech ventures, yet there’s something about the partnership that makes perfect sense. What do the iconic denim brand and the tech super-power have in common? Simple – both brands have delivered undeniably iconic products and become global household names.

Project Jacquard aims to develop interactive fabrics that empower wearers to use their phone by simply tapping or swiping their clothes. Soon, silencing a call or sending a text message could be as easy as a shimmy or a shake!

Retro Orange Tab makes a come back this season

Retro Orange Tab makes a come back this season!

An opportunity to be present in the moment without the invasion of screens and technology is emerging and the simplicity of the production method makes it ever sweeter. How is this done? Via a standard loom, replacing the normal thread with a conductive yarn.

Such insight suggests Levi’s contribution is far more involved than may appear on the surface. The 1853 established company is the daddy of denim: it’s globally renown for its heritage Orange Tab flares to its 501 Originals! In line with this is Google’s reputation as our go-to search engine.

Levi’s presence will be a crucial factor in the credibility and design of the future product, a much-debated topic in the fash-tech sphere! Customers who might normally be put off by a function over style concept might be swung by a warranted trust in the Levi’s brand.

jacquard2x

Of course, this is just the beginning. With interactive fabric now developing into a relatively easy concept to pursue, partnerships such as Levi Strauss and Google could fuel many more similar collaborations. Might we be observing the birth of the ‘Super Jean’?

Louis Vuitton’s “Damier” in the Dog-House

Louis Vuitton has lost its Trade Mark protection for the famous chequered pattern, the Damier.

In addition to its “LV” monogram, the French fashion giant Louis Vuitton has been using the brown and beige check – known as the Damier Ebene – since 1888. It successfully registered a European-wide Community Trade Mark (“CTM”) in 1998, and for the cream and grey Damier Azur ten years later. However, Nanu Nana, an online gift item supplier, filed a legal claim to remove protection for these patterns in 2009.

The Damier Azur and Damier Ebene, side by side

The Damier Azur and Damier Ebene, side by side

Nanu Nana argued that Louis Vuitton could not legally protect the Damier pattern because it was:

  • descriptive;
  • devoid of distinctive character;
  • an established practice of trade; and
  • consisted exclusively of a shape giving substantial value to the goods themselves.

If a Trade Mark is found to be any of the above, it will be refused protection under the Community Trade Mark Regulations (Article 7). In eight of the 27 European Union countries, Louis Vuitton could not prove it had acquired distinctive use of the Damiers. In other words, it could not prove that the Damier was distinctive enough for people to automatically associate it with its origin, being the Louis Vuitton official brand. The Courts therefore cancelled the Trade Mark protection of both the Ebene and Azur Damiers.

After a few rounds of appeal by Louis Vuitton, it all boiled down to the decision of the General Court. The decision was handed down in April 2015 and said:

  • The marks lack inherent distinctive character. They are too basic, too common and have a long-standing link with leather goods for which they were registered.
  • The evidence provided by Louis Vuitton did not prove distinctive character throughout the European Union (in all 27 countries).
  • Photos of celebrities holding Louis Vuitton merchandise did not prove the brand had acquired a special or well-known distinctiveness through use.
Just because celebrities - like supermodel Miranda Kerr - use a particular product, doesn't mean that the design can be protected under law!

Just because celebrities – like supermodel Miranda Kerr – use a particular product, doesn’t mean that the design can be protected under law!

Without a protected Damier, Louis Vuitton will now have a harder time going after counterfeit products.

What could the brand have done differently?

Louis Vuitton’s crux has been lack evidence. Had the brand provided sufficient proof, showing acquired distinctiveness of the Damiers in every EU country, perhaps the Damiers would still be protected. Louis Vuitton now has the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Justice for the EU, which is a route the luxury designer brand will likely take to protect the patterns. Let’s watch this space!

What does this case teach us?

  • A mark must be distinctive throughout each and every one of the EU countries in order to be granted an EU-wide protection.
  • Even marks that have been used for over a century can be vulnerable to invalidity claims. The key to protection, as always, is evidence. If sales, PR and marketing data is maintained for all EU territories, distinctiveness and use are easier to prove.
  • Trade Mark erosion is when a trade marked name or pattern becomes generic (think “Hoover” or “Kleenex”). You can help prevent this with savvy marketing, to include identifying and adding a durable distinctive element to the core design. This will help to withstand opposition or cancellation proceedings from competitors.
  • Where a Trade Mark constitutes a valuable asset, businesses should always have a strategic approach to registering multiple marks in their core markets.

I’m setting up a fashion business: where do I start?

Establishing a fashion business can be electrifying and a roller-coaster journey. To avoid pitfalls, read on…

Think of an amazing brand name, and protect it!
A catchy brand name can make all the difference, as it’s the basis on which your business will be established and will flourish. It’s therefore crucial to first ensure your name is unique, and avoids confusion with other names already out there. Once you’re clear on this, get the brand name and any logo associated with it registered as trade marks. This will allow you to protect your brand from copycats, and safeguard the value of the goodwill you generate.

What can the quarters of a burgeoning fashion startup look like? This is the Everlane Studio in San Francisco

What can the quarters of a burgeoning fashion startup look like? This is the Everlane Studio in San Francisco

What legal structure is most suitable for you?
Three most common business structures are below:

Sole Trader: you run your business as an individual, retain all profits post tax and can employ staff. You are accountable for the business and personally responsible for any losses your business makes. For tax purposes, you are considered self-employed.
Partnership: responsibility is shared between you and your business partner (or partners). The profits of the business can be shared between all partners in the business. Each partner pays tax on their share of the profits.
Limited Liability Companies: a company is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders. The company is responsible in its own right for everything it does and its finances are completely separate from your personal finances. Any profit made by the company, after payment of corporation tax, can be distributed between the shareholders.

Have you thought about your location?
Some of the most famous start-ups have begun in a back bedroom, but as you expand you might need to relocate to an office or shop space. Space is often bought via leasehold, but don’t be too eager to sign without ensuring you fully understand and agree to the terms. A more cost effective strategy might be to trade over the web. If doing so, it’s a great idea to get expert advice on trading over the internet as there’s a whole host of complex laws and regulations surrounding this.

Make sure to do your homework before starting your fashion business, which includes having the correct contracts in place with partners or staff.

Make sure to do your homework before starting your fashion business, which includes having the correct contracts in place with partners &/or staff

Do you have the right agreements in place?
Before entering into a business relationship, you should ensure that you have all of the appropriate agreements in place. For instance, if negotiating with a third party – such as a supplier or developer – you should have signed a non-disclosure agreement to protect any confidential information you may exchange. Having the right contracts set out from the beginning is essential, particularly to avoid complexities in the event of a dispute!

For more information on setting up your business don’t hesitate to contact me.