Once seen as a field for non-serious lawyers, fashion law has taken off in recent years as one of the most lucrative careers for legal professionals.
An example of a notable case was Louis Vuitton versus Hyundai. In a commercial for the car company, a quick flash of a Louis Vuitton store passes by in a shot during the 2010 Superbowl. According to Louis Vuitton, the luxury label’s trademark was diluted in the commercial. Surprisingly, the court agreed, and Louis Vuitton won the case.
Other high profile cases include Converse suing 31 competitors for copying their trademark All-Star sneaker design. Rihanna also filed a case against Topman for putting her face on one of its T-shirts. Finally, possibly one of the biggest fashion cases in 2012 was when Christian Louboutin won the exclusive right to make shoes with red soles.
Currently, the global luxury market has a value of $985 billion dollars, according to Boston Consulting Group, and is expected to grow to $1.18 trillion by 2020.
As law has become increasingly specialized, fashion, entertainment and sports law have become a high demand specializations. However, there are only 5 courses in the United States for fashion law.
Why hasn’t law embraced the fashion industry? It is believed that lawyers have strayed away from fashion law because fashion is viewed as frivolous and “too fluffy” to the tough demeanor that comes along with the image of an “attorney”.
However, the fashion industry, especially luxury brands, has grown immensely in recent years. This is especially due to the rise in luxury goods being sold in the Middle East, South America and Asia. In return, fashion companies are having to seek new investors, manage mergers, and battle cheap knock-offs more than in the past.
But fashion law is not all about suing competitors; it has become more complex due to e-commerce, social media & smartphones. Now fashion lawyers must worry about protecting their clients’ data privacy. Hackers are getting smarter, and can gain access to information about fashion designs and imitate them. Also, now that 3D printing is on the rise, the worry about intellectual property rights are increasing.
Fashion, especially luxury fashion, is a business upheld by an image and idea. Since there are an abundance of hackers and imitators around, being able to maintain the brand’s reputation will become more challenging than in the past. As fashion law continues to grow, we can expect to see an increase in attorneys working to make sure these businesses are represented to the best of their ability, and their brand’s image remains pristine.