High-end outdoor clothing brand Patagonia Inc is taking on fast fashion retailer Gap for copying its “iconic” fleece jacket design. Patagonia Inc has filed court proceedings in the Federal Court.
In a complaint filed on 22 November 2022, Patagonia alleges that Gap willfully and deliberately copied the fleece design through the creation and sale of its “Mockneck Pullover” jackets, mimicking the flap pocket and rectangular logo of Patagonia’s classic “Snap-T” fleece jackets (both shown below).
The trend of regulators cracking down on misleading green claims or the so-called “greenwashing” continues this week. In the latest development, on Friday 29 July 2022, the British competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), launched an investigation into the eco-friendly claims of retailers Asos, Boohoo, and Asda.
After recently suing Aldi over allegations of intellectual property infringement based on its Colin the Caterpillar cake and Christmas glitter gin, Marks & Spencer (M&S) now faces a “liti-gator” itself as it has recently been sued by Lacoste for allegedly infringing its crocodile logo (shown below) and related rights on a number of clothing and household products.
The Allegations We set out below a representation a selection of the alleging infringing products the subject of the complaint.
Lacoste, the luxury sportswear brand, wrote to M&S last year demanding that it cease advertising and selling various goods bearing crocodile logos or signs. M&S refused and now Lacoste is seeking an injunction on M&S and damages (among other things).
The Lacoste brand, which is named after the well-known tennis player René Lacoste who was nicknamed “the Crocodile,” has existed since 1933. As such, it has an extensive reputation worldwide and has ownership of a number of UK trade mark registrations, dating back to 1984. Lacoste is arguing that by using similar versions of its crocodile logo, which has built up a considerable reputation by the brand, M&S are not only creating a likelihood of confusion between the brands, but importantly, are taking advantage of the Lacoste mark.
What is interesting about Lacoste’s claims is that although the brand only owns trade mark registrations in the UK for the word CROCODILE and various representations of its logo, they are claiming that M&S’ use of different crocodile signs on products and the use of the word CROCODILE in relation to those goods constitutes trade mark infringement and passing off. These allegations are particularly interesting since M&S’ feature varying depictions of crocodiles. The claim is also in relation to a number of products sold by M&S that feature Roald Dahl’s crocodile character from The Enormous Crocodile, whose image would be licenced to M&S to use (shown below).
What’s to Come? Whilst M&S is yet to file its defence in the proceedings, statements from the brand indicate that it is likely that they will argue that their products merely feature depictions of real life animals and are not an infringement of Lacoste’s rights.
However, whatever the outcome of this case (if it is not settled in the meantime), it will be interesting to monitor it as the decision could have important lessons for trade mark owners and third parties on the scope of protection granted over not just their trade mark, but similar marks.
Reference: Lacoste, Lacoste E-Commerce and Lacoste UK Limited v Marks and Spencer P.L.C. (IL-2021-000093)
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated most brands’ plans to grow their own direct to consumer (D2C) e-commerce presence. For many brands, this has become essential to their continued survival and competitiveness. However, how does a fashion brand run a successful e-commerce site whilst retaining the exclusive allure and personal feel of its designer stores? What are the key legal pitfalls it should be looking out for as it navigates this changing landscape? We’ve pulled together 10 lessons learnt over the past 18 months:
The Australian Federal Court has ordered women’s active wear manufacturer and retailer, Lorna Jane Pty Ltd (Lorna Jane), to pay AU$5 million in penalties for making false and misleading representations to consumers, and engaging in conduct liable to mislead the public, in connection with the promotion and supply of its “LJ Shield Activewear”.
Mike Tyson, the famous former boxer, has sued Australian streetwear brand Culture Kings and its founders. Mr Tyson alleges the respondents have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law for using his name, nicknames and likeness to sell t-shirts, without his permission. Mr Tyson alleges that Culture Kings’ t-shirts bear images of him, his name as well as his monikers “Iron Mike”, and “Kid Dynamite”.
On 6 May 2021, the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) fined the high-end skincare products supplier Caudalie €859,310 for breaching competition law by imposing to its authorized distributors minimum resale prices and illegal limitations of online sales.
Caudalie submitted commitments to the BCA concerning the conditions that Caudalie can impose on distributors to safeguard the integrity of its distribution network and protect its brand image. The BCA’s decision made these commitments legally binding and considered them as mitigating circumstances justifying a decrease of the amount of the fine.
On June 11, 2021, the White House issued initial guidance on how President Biden’s January 25, 2021 “Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” (“Order”) will be implemented. The Order aims to ensure that the federal government is spending taxpayer money on American-made goods, by American workers, and with American-made component parts. This is significant considering the nearly $600 billion the federal government spends annually.
The “Made in America Office” (MIAO) established by the Order is within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The MIAO will review any exceptions from or waivers of Made in America Laws filed by government agencies. The renewed focus on “Made in America” as implemented by the MIAO will likely influence enforcement of Made in America claims as well.