Thursday, 24 September 2009

Dusk has set on "Handbags at dawn"

In association with Fashionista, the long awaited annual "IP in the Fashion Industry - Handbags at Dawn" CLT Conference was held in London on Tuesday - and Fashionista was there to support the event. The illustrious panel of speakers were welcomed by a warm, engaged audience and the conference seemed to be enjoyed by all.

This particular Fashionista waxed lyrical on the essential topic of brand clearance: what it is; why it is important; and how best to clear a brand. Hopefully the message rang out loud and "clear" (sorry) that brand clearance is vital for fashion houses to protect their brands, and to minimise and manage the risk of opposition to use and objections to the registrability of a brand as a trade mark. Wouldn't it be awful to spend huge amounts of time, effort and money developing, launching and marketing a brand (without clearing it) only to find out somewhere down the line that another party owns rights to the same or a similar mark and may, at worst, force you to rebrand?

Highlights of the day included:

- a fantastic opening by Manny Silverman, who was able to provide industry insider knowledge on where IP fits in within the fashion industry, and delivered the important message of appreciating a brand and its value as an asset in order to fully benefit from the globalisation of the fashion industry;

- Daniel Ryan, approaching IP valuation from a refreshingly original perspective - breaking down valuation for each type of intellectual property right as it relates to the fashion industry, and highlighting the financial returns that IP rights can allow a company to generate;

- Christopher Stothers and Stephanie McAviney, discussing the use of selective distribution networks by brands to maintain an aura of luxury, together with a synopsis of a case which Fashionista has already blogged about: the Copad / "Christian Dior corset" case, and examining the limitations of such agreements and whether or not English courts are likely to extend protection already afforded to brand owners; and

- Fashionista's friend Melissa Morgia, who provided an insight into the role and rights of a celebrity as a designer, brand endorser and model, in an age where such role extensions are becoming increasingly prevalent.

All this and much more, seamlessly overseen by the most talented of chairmen, Jeremy Phillips - always armed with taxing questions, ready to keep the presenters on their toes!

All in all, the day was a great success and fashion IP lawyers and industry insiders no doubt walked away considerably wiser.