23 October 2014

Converse suing Chuck Taylor copycats | Fashion law post

Converse is suing to stop others from copying what it claims are distinctive elements of its design, introduced in 1917: rubber toe cap, rubber bumper, two thin black stripes, and diamond pattern sole
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Sneakers
I tweeted about this Converse fashion law case but decided to expand on it here because articles covering the case have confused copyrights and trademarks. 

A licensing deal with the government is a smart business move. Chuck Taylor All Star shoes not only gained popularity for being the first basketball shoe, but they garnered popularity in the streets as lingering prison attire à la baggy pants: aside from pants and tops or jumpsuits (depending on the coast), white Chuck Taylors were state issued to prisoners.

This month, in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, Converse filed 22 separate lawsuits accusing 31 companies of trademark infringement. Companies named in the suit include Bob's, Kmart, Ralph Lauren, and Tory Burch.

Below are real Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers, starting at $14.98:
Below are some (inspired or infringing depending on court outcome) lookalikes, starting at $12.87:

On sale here and here
You do not need a registered trademark in order to bring a federal lawsuit under 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), but having a federally registered mark makes your case much stronger. A USPTO trademark search does not reveal Converse trademarks for marks claimed to be protected in these lawsuits; however, without filing any document or application you still can retain some trademark rights. Some trademark rights, albeit relatively weak rights, can be established based solely on legitimate use of your original marks.
Advantages of a federal trademark registration include:
    • a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
    • constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark, which can make a court judgment against infringers more likely; and
    • the ability to file U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs to prevent importation of infringing goods, (which Converse is now doing).  

Technically, a trademark lawsuit based on 1125(a) is not a trademark infringement lawsuit, but rather one based on likelihood of confusion, which is a form of unfair business practices.

Anything that is functional (such as a shoe itself), cannot be protected by trademark law. The rubber bumper and toe caps seem functional. Even if these features are found to be decorative rather than functional, they have long been used by other designers so any trademark protection could have lost for failure of Converse to protect or 'police' the trademarks. 

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Sneakers

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21 October 2014

Why star a femme fatale when you can have a femme légale?

Have you noticed the trend of law ladies in this Fall's TV lineup? 
"Legally Blonde" screenshot of Elle Woods
Given the popularity of "Law & Order" and "Legally Blonde" amongst millennials, it is no surprise more law based entertainment has risen. Although Lifetime recently wrapped up longterm legal comedy-drama "Drop Dead Diva," and "Fairly Legal" was cancelled after a few seasons on the USA Network, more leading legal ladies appeared this Fall.

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Bad Judge TV Show Ad Promo
"Bad Judge" stars Kate Walsh as a Los Angeles County Circuit Court judge with a scattered personal life and an ethically questionable courtroom demeanor. Portraying an otherwise smart and successful character as a promiscuous hot mess is annoyingly overdone. If the show does not amp up the comedy factor or intrigue the audience via some original cases or captivating personal life, it is unlikely to get picked up for another season. A better plot would be a show loosely based on the life of Judge Judy or Judge Milian.

Cristela TV Show Ad Promo
"Cristela" stars Cristela Alonzo in a family sitcom reminiscent of George Lopez and Roseanne. The main character is a Mexican-American woman entering her sixth year of law school (although it takes 3 years of law school in America to earn a JD)In the first episode, Alonzo takes on an unpaid internship at a law firm where during her interview she was mistaken as the help by her boss's daughter/co-worker. This show is one to watch. 

How to Get Away With Murder TV Show Tweet Promo
"How to Get Away With Murder" stars Viola Davis as a criminal law professor who challenges her 1L (first-year) law school students to vie for a position at her law firm. Somehow the best students of the batch get caught up in a murder plot. And if you're reading this there is a very high likelihood you are interested in both fashion and the law, so do not miss this show. From casual clothes to professional attire, this show has it all.

Do you follow any law based TV shows?

Shows like Oprah Winfrey Network's "Staten Island Law" have flopped because it is particularly difficult to capture the thrill of lawyer life. That said, if someone is looking for a fashion lawyer to star in a reality show or as a TV consultant, I volunteer as tribute. 

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10 October 2014

Get vested in fall fashion

Long vests & sleeveless coats styled in this blog post
These long vests and sleeveless coats are styled below
Yesterday's "How to get away with Murder" showed Liza Weil (who you may know from Gilmore Girls) wearing a beautiful trench dress. I love pieces that work double-duty and this dress would also work worn open, like a vest. It is no wonder why it is almost sold out (on sale here).

Long vests and sleeveless coats are great cold weather transition items. I live in Northern California and travel a lot so I depend on layering with vests to help me get acclimated to varied temperatures. 
Here are my styling ideas:
Young professional styling w/ Marissa Webb pink vest and Delvaux purse
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
Using colored suits can easily reflect 80s attire. Similarly, shopping vintage but not modernizing looks will make you look outdated. When I track down my dream Thierry Mugler suit I will at least remove the shoulder pads. This pink Marissa Webb vest (also available in gray) is an easy and sophisticated way to add color to your wardrobe.

Young professional styling of yellow vest or sleeveless lime coat
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
Even a lime colored vest can be work appropriate. I paired it here with a printed wrap dress as an example of when you do not have to keep your outfit muted because of one vibrant piece.

Young professional styling of long vest, leather pencil skirt, leopard heels, lace blouse, Fendi pinstriped bow blouse, Fendi peekaboo, Gucci bronzer, and limited edition Givenchy watch.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 
For office environments try classic black heels and add in a mixed print through a scarf. If your office is conservative, also swap the leather skirt for a classic wool blend. 

Styling ideas using long vests and sleeveless coats
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13
This last grouping shows a few different heels because my suggestion is to pick a shade that goes with your skin color. The Nudes Collection by Louboutin is a good start. Adding a cashmere sweater or top with lace or embroidered sleeves like the one in the styling group above would complete the look. 

I am petite so my concern is not appearing bulky while layering. I have broad shoulders and a narrow waist so belted or slim tailored outerwear is my preference. Below are other such pieces.

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