This Week in Fashion Law: Kurdish Jumpsuits and Ghostbusters
A lot has happened in the world of fashion lawsuits and controversial apparel lately. So this week I thought I’d do a roundup of the brands that have come under fire, or even started the fire, over the past few weeks.
H&M Accused of Producing a Kurdish Jumpsuit
H&M have been inspired by the Kurdish female fighters. pic.twitter.com/3QzC7nQgsA
— Wasan Shoresh (@K4life_) October 5, 2014
Last week people seemed to get all up in a tizzy about a green khaki jumpsuit featured in H&M’s latest Fall campaign. Apparently the jumpsuit appeared to be a little too similar to the ones female Kurdish soldiers wear in the Middle East to defend against ISIS. But if you ask me, such a military-inspired jumpsuit has become pretty ubiquitous in almost any culture. H&M also released the jumpsuit in other colors besides the allegedly offensive green, as well as a denim version. In this case, I think consumers have once again read a little too much into the motive behind the garment. While we should definitely be aware of both the women and men fighting for their rights in the Middle East right now, in this case any similarities between H&M’s version of the jumpsuit and the ones Kurdish soldiers wear are merely coincidental.
Converse Sues to Protect Its Classic Shoe
The only thing more prevalent than the classic Chuck Taylor All Stars are the various knockoff versions of it and Converse has finally decided to put its foot down (pun unintended). Converse is accusing 31 companies, including Walmart, Kmart, and Skechers, of trademark infringement for copying elements like the black stripe along the sole and the rubber toe cap. On Tuesday the company filed 22 separate lawsuits in United States District Court in Brooklyn. As much as fake Chuck Taylors annoy me, I can’t help but wonder what took Converse so long to finally take action. Is it possibly too late? I guess we’ll have to just wait and see if they can stomp out their competition (okay, the pun was intended that time).
Bottega Veneta Trademarks a Knot (or at least is trying to)
This one is not really as crazy as the others, but I still thought it was interesting. Bottega Veneta is trying to trademark the metal knot it uses on its handbags, particularly as the clasp for its clutches. Apparently that’s easier said than done. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices (USPTO) rejected Bottega’s claim, saying that it was not distinctive enough. The designer then had to re-present its case citing the amount of sales they have made and how notorious they are for this particular “configuration” based on its ads. The company also compared its knot to the Chanel double C’s, the Tory Burch cross, and the Ferragamo bow. Apparently that still wasn’t enough to convince USPTO, but the design house still won’t take no for answer and wants to reapply. As important as it is for designers to protect “trademark” elements, I hope that Bottega doesn’t get too tied up in this application process. (Okay that was the last one I swear!)
Chanel Sues Over Ghostbusters Sweatshirt
Parody T-shirt brand What About Yves has been creating a stir since releasing apparel with the message “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves,” regarding the haus’s name change to Saint Laurent Paris, a couple of years ago. For the most part the targeted designers let the streetwear brand be, but Chanel is not too happy about its use of the company’s logo. Just in time for Halloween, What About Yves released a Sweatshirt with the classic double C logo with the Ghostbusters ghost in between. I’m not sure if this is just supposed to be a festive clothing item, but if there is some kind of joke behind it I don’t get it. But yet again, why has Chanel decided to come after someone using its logo now? I’m not sure. Maybe they just decided that since the tacky clothier Jeanine Heller has finally targeted them that it’s their opportunity to take the designer-offending brand down. I know I sure wouldn’t mind if they did.
Katherine Fabian (@kafernn) is a recent graduate of Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center and is currently applying to law schools, freelance writing, and teaching yoga. She hopes to one day practice fashion law and defend the intellectual property rights of designers.