Fashion Brands Top List of Most Active Trademark Lawsuit Filing Parties

Fashion brands have earned prominent placement on a list of companies that are most consistently monitoring unauthorized uses of their names and logos (read: trademarks), and initiating legal action in connection therewith. According to a report published compiled by legal analytics data firm, Lex Machina, which released its second annual trademark litigation year in review report. The findings, which analyze U.S. district court filings from from January 2009 through March 2016, put fashion brands in positions of reaping the greatest rewards in connection with their trademark policing efforts.

Lex Machina's report put high fashion houses in the spotlight in terms of their trademark efforts. In terms of case filings, Coach led the pack, with 730 filed cases. Chanel came in second with 330 cases, and tech company, Microsoft, came in third, filing a total of 203 cases during the period (2009 through Q1 of 2016). Deckers Outdoor Corp., parent company to Ugg Boots, was high on the list, as well, with 164 cases filed. Another fashion firm that rather unsurprisingly made the list: Louis Vuitton Malletier SA, which had 81 cases.

Measuring by damage amounts awarded (as distinct, of course, with dollar amounts collection, as in counterfeiting and cybersquatting cases, in particularly, the damages amount collected from international defendants is almost always only a fraction of the court-order award), Chanel was awarded the most damages, nearly $1 billion. Burberry Ltd. came in second with $523.1 million and Burberry Ltd. U.K. was awarded $416.6 million.

Gucci America Inc. followed at $207.7 million. Also on the list were Coach Inc. at $180.3 million, Nike Inc. at $170.6 million and Converse Inc. at $166.2 million. The amounts are the aggregate totals based on awards mostly from default judgments or consent judgments, and where damages were from decisions on the case merits, the report noted that juries have awarded more damages than judges.

The study also found that in cybersquatting cases (those stemming from the registering and/or using of an Internet domain name with the bad faith intent of profiting from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else), Chanel, Deckers, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Coach were the companies most likely to win ownership of a domain name by way of a court proceeding.

As for forums: Lex Machina found that the Central District of California was the most popular district for trademark filings (4,164 cases filed from 2009 through Q1 of 2016), although it has seen a decline since 2015 corresponding to an overall decline in all trademark cases filings.Among the other top districts, the Northern District of Illinois is notable for seeing some growth during the same period.

Brian Howard, coauthor of the report and Lex Machina’s data scientist, said the compilation of data began as a public interest project at Stanford University 10 years ago. The data analysis can provide information on who is filing, how long the cases take and how they turn out, factors that can impact a company’s litigation strategy. “It’s important to defend your marks, but data can make sure it’s being done effectively and on budget,” Howard said.