After two years of speculation and recent reports that a resurrection of the house of the late couturier Charles James is underway, a deal has been confirmed. Arnaud de Lummen, the Managing Director of Luvanis S.A., a Luxembourg-based investment company, has confirmed to The Fashion Law that James’ grown children have joined forces with Luvanis to combine their worldwide intellectual property rights, which consist of an array of trademark and copyright registrations, and pending trademark applications. As such, the parties will relaunch the Charles James brand on a global scale in the near future.
The deal settles a number of trademark disputes between the James children, and Luvanis, and was made possible following the withdrawal of The Weinstein Company (“TWC”), which terminated the license agreement it entered into with the James children in May 2014, coinciding with the Charles James-themed Metropolitan Museum of Art Anna Wintour Costume Institute Gala.
As indicated in our exclusive, in-depth look at the status of the Charles James resurrection earlier this year, given the widespread uncertainties as to the ownership of intellectual property rights in the Charles James brand and the very few – if any – rights that TWC garnered as a result of its agreement with the James children, it hardly comes as a surprise that TWC backed out of the deal with the Charles James estate.
While the James children may have previously held some potential rights to the Charles James name thanks to right of publicity laws in the U.S. (it is unlikely, though, as James died in New York, a state where publicity rights are not descendible), such rights did not prove terribly helpful abroad, where Luvanis holds preexisting trademark rights in the Charles James name in the European Union, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
It is worth noting, of course, that James' heirs own the copyrights to reproduce all sketches and designs of Charles James (which enjoy copyright protection for the life of the "author" plus seventy years following his death, which occurred in 1978). Therefore, the recently finalized partnership entails in a consolidation of the parties' individual trademark and copyright holdings.
In connection with the resurrection project, de Lummen, stated on Wednesday: “Charles James was a fascinating creative genius and we are thrilled to finally have the opportunity to build on this outstanding cultural capital.” As for the James children, Charles James Jr., the son of the designer, stated: “We are pleased to partner with Luvanis who has demonstrated an incredible expertise in bringing back some amazing dormant brands.” Louise James, the daughter of the designer, stated: “We can’t wait to see the Charles James name active again and are confident that Luvanis will identify the right partners for continuing the legacy of our father.”
Luvanis S.A., which has successfully relaunched the Vionnet, Moynat, and Paul Poiret brands, has enlisted Savigny Partners LLP to assist in selecting the appropriate investors, partners or licensees to help revive the Charles James brand.