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New business litigation niche emerges in fashion law

| Nov 21, 2014 | Business Litigation |

A fashion designer won the exclusive right to make shoes with a red sole in a 2012 landmark case. That is an example of the kind of legal battles and business litigation that has been spawned by the rapidly-expanding luxury fashion industry. The country as a whole, including in North Carolina, has witnessed the establishment of a new legal niche called fashion law.

The luxury fashion industry has exploded exponentially with the average person’s love of brand labels and the associated brand status. The worldwide luxury market has been valued at $985 billion in sales and is predicted to grow to $1.18 trillion by 2020. This has opened, and is opening, new practice niches for the legal profession.

Much of this new category of business litigation involves disputes over the use of a brand’s name and trademark. Even the slightest infringements in that respect have resulted in high-stakes, and sometimes outlandish, litigation. The mere implication of a company’s brand by another company’s marketing campaign has led to lawsuits over the sanctity and preservation of the brand name and the product it represents.

The main criticism, therefore, of this fast-emerging legal practice area is the rather nit-picking violations that some companies choose to take to court for enforcement. You’ve probably read about several of them — the suits are usually reported by both network and cable news programs. Some of the brands involved are Louis Vuitton, Converse sneakers, most designer clothing brands, and even Rihanna’s face. In the case of the pop star, Rihanna sued Topman for using a depiction of her face on a T-shirt.

Business litigation in the United States, including in North Carolina, is more and more reflecting a growing sector of business litigation involving fashion law actions. What was once considered to be a vacuous a subject matter, lacking in substantial rewards, is now a burgeoning industry racking up record sales. Along with its phenomenal growth, the industry is spawning a creatively expanding category of business disputes.

Source: businesstimes.com, “Law gets fashionable as labels learn to love litigation, Consumer“, Nov. 16, 2014

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