It can be difficult to protect unique ideas within the fashion world. The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers some protection with the availability of patents, trademarks and other forms of legal protection. Getting one is not always easy. However, once a designer has this protection, for example in the form of a design patent, they should be able to fight anyone that attempts to steal their ideas for their own financial gain.
A recent case provides an example. Valentino, a fashion icon, has teamed up with online retail giant Amazon to hold an alleged counterfeiter accountable for violating their patent. The fashion icon states the defendant has infringed on four design patents. These patents are written to protect ornamental elements of a shoe design.
The case is of interest, as the fashion icon is using a multi-prong approach:
- Step one: Multiple claims. The plaintiffs are coming at the defendants with multiple claims. In addition to patent infringement, they have also claimed trademark infringement, counterfeiting, unfair competition and breach of contract.
- Step two: Bring in Amazon. The case is also of note because, in addition to the designer, the claim also brings in the retailer. The breach of contract claim is specific to Amazon. The online retailer claims the defendant breached its Conditions of Use contract by using its site to sell counterfeit products.
This strategy is important, as it is important to include these claims for consideration to better ensure the court can hold infringing party accountable for their actions.
If successful, the claim can lead to the end of the sale of the counterfeit products as well as monetary awards to the plaintiff. However, arguably the most important benefit of a win would be the deterrence factor. If they win, others will be less likely to attempt to counterfeit their products.