Ralph Lauren said he doesn’t design clothes, he designs dreams. In 1967, in a tiny office in the Empire State Building, Lauren built a business inspired by classic American apparel that today is a publicly traded company with a market cap over $8.5 billion.
The bedrock of his or any fashion business is IP, intellectual property, consisting of trademarks, copyrights, and even patents. In 2021, counterfeiters and other infringers jeopardize those assets more often and more easily than ever.
Joan B. Davis has a special perspective on the literary and fashion law landscape. She has worked in the fashion modeling industry and is a licensed private investigator, which has proven valuable in working with authorities to have counterfeit goods removed from online sites.
“In the US, counterfeiting in just fashion cost $29 billion last year,” says Davis, who is Of Counsel with Schroder Brooks Law Firm, based in Richmond, Virginia.
“When you spend as much money as these designers spend in building up their brands and protecting them, it’s not only disappointing. Counterfeiting has caused many companies to go out of business. And in the past, there hasn’t been a great way to fight counterfeiters.
“I tell a lot of my designers who may not be the Guccis of the world, but are emerging designers to register your brand. Always register your trademark and then register that brand with Amazon. They have a brand registry program where they can check if someone’s trying to sell something under your brand. That is a very easy way to protect yourself. You don’t even have to hire a lawyer to do that,” Davis tells CCC.
“A lot of people think, ‘why are counterfeits a big deal? People don’t realize that working to get counterfeits produced involves criminal activity. It’s also often using human trafficking. So there’s a seedy side to counterfeits that make them not seem as pleasant.”