CATWALK JUSTICE: If You Hadn’t Heard, Chanel Is Suing 399 Websites

Catwalk Justice is our periodic column on fashion law, courtesy of Charles Colman of Charles Colman Law, PLLC and LAW OF FASHION. This week, Charles explains why this column might not be weekly anymore.

So, it turns out that the past two weeks weren’t an anomaly: it’s actually sort of tricky to juggle active litigation and a regular Friday news column.  Who knew?  That means that while the fashion- and entertainment-related lawsuits that I mentioned last week (but still can’t talk about) are live, my CATWALK JUSTICE posts will be sporadic.  Don’t worry: you’re sure to hear from me at the first sign of activity in the fashion case of the year, Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent, and I would never keep you in the dark on litigation over meta-meta-fashion, either.  But for now, when it comes to run-of-the-mill lawsuits against members of the Jersey Shore cast, you’re on your own, kids.

But remember: there’s a s*&tload of information about fashion law on my blog, LAW OF FASHION, so if you read Styleite’s (always superb) coverage of this case or that and want to learn a bit more about the legal principles at issue, LOF’s got your back.  Observe:

• This week, Chanel filed a lawsuit against 399 — not 400, but 399 — websites that have allegedly sold counterfeit items bearing the retailer’s trademark.  Among the accused are chanelOnline.com, replica-coco-lv.com, and chanelhandbags-outlet.net.  Sure enough, LAW OF FASHION has addressed the legal issues associated with counterfeit sales of luxury goods on the Internet.  And if you’re rusty on the difference between garden-variety trademark infringement and (the much more serious act of) trademark counterfeiting, LOF has a post on that, too.

• This week, there was both good news and bad news for models, each carrying legal overtones.  LOF has discussed some of the legal issues surrounding modeling before.  And those issues, unlike the models themselves, aren’t pretty.

Nike recently won the battle against humor trademark dilution in a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision denying a trademark registration to applicants for the mark “JUST JESU IT,” which the TTAB found too evocative of Nike’s famous “JUST DO IT” mark.  (Of course, that was sort of the point.)  But it hasn’t been all rosy for Nike on the legal front, as the company’s EU trademark application for the phrase “dynamic support” was rejected by the European Union General Court as “merely descriptive” of the shoes in question.  Need a refresher on the whole “merely descriptive” thing?  LOF has got your back.

• Yesterday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued mall staple dELiA*s for allegedly firing one employee after announcing she was pregnant, and forcing another unfortunate employee into early maternity leave.  (Okay, so LAW OF FASHION hasn’t discussed pregnancy-motivated discrimination specifically, but you might find it enlightening to read about other types of sex discrimination in the workplace.)

• Fashion students (all students, for that matter), this is important: don’t import foreign editions of textbooks to save money!  The Second Circuit this week reaffirmed its August ruling that such importation may constitute copyright infringement.  Why?  It has to do with a hotly-debated limitation on copyright law’s “first-sale doctrine,” which LAW OF FASHION touched on at the end of an interview in late July.

• West Hollywood, long animal-friendly, has tentatively approved an ordinance that would ban the sale of fur within city limits, which should serve as a reminder of the growing importance of “ethical fashion” and the legal/regulatory/compliance issues that go along with it.  As mentioned on, yes, LAW OF FASHION, this writer is jointly taking the lead on these issues at the New York CIty Bar’s newly-formed Fashion Law Committee.  Mark my words: fashion brands whose products consist primarily of animal products and companies that fail to adequately monitor human rights conditions behind the manufaturing of their goods are going to find themselves in a distinctly Borders-esque situation a lot sooner than they expect.  In other words, obsolete.  And in some instances, in violation of the law.

On that ominous note, 1) have a swell weekend, 2) use it to catch up on Glee, now that the third season has started (with the fantastically talented Darren Criss as a regular!), and 3) look for future CATWALK JUSTICE columns, to be posted as the vagaries of litigation permit…

[This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship among any individuals or entities. Any views expressed herein are those of the writer on the particular date of this post, and should not necessarily be attributed to his law firm or its clients.]

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