With the ever-sizable number of lawsuits filed each week either by fashion industry entities or otherwise involving them, in the U.S. and internationally, and developments in connection with already-pending cases and related proceedings (such as those before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office), it can be difficult to keep up. Here are some of the newly-filed suits and developments from the week that you may have missed …
Male Model Sues Bruce Weber
The sexual harassment claims that have taken over Hollywood in the several months have begun to make their way into the fashion industry, where rumblings of tell-alls have been underway since the New York Times published a wildly damning expose on mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. Male model Jason Boyce has slapped one of fashion's most famous photographers, Bruce Weber, with a strongly-worded lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.
According to Boyce’s complaint, which was filed this week in a New York state court, during a shoot in December 2014 at Weber’s Manhattan studio, Weber kissed Boyce on the lips, removed Boyce's underwear and forced Boyce to touch his own genitals. You can read more about that case here.
Kylie Jenner Files a Truck Trademark
It looks like Kylie Jenner may be hitting the road soon with her hot-selling lip kits and other beauty products, as the youngest member of the Kardashian/Jenner clan has filed to federally register “Kylie Jenner Truck” and “Kylie Truck” for use in connection with “Retail store services featuring cosmetics, merchandise and gifts.”
The trademark applications are currently pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but in order for Jenner to receive federal registrations for the marks, U.S. trademark law requires that she prove that she has made actual use of the marks. So, keep your eyes peeled for a lip kit-selling truck on a road near you in the relatively near future.
You’re on Camera!
Forever 21, currently embroiled in a trademark battle with Gucci, has been hit with a $2 million negligence and invasion of privacy lawsuit by an unnamed former employee for allegedly failing to prevent a hidden camera from being placed in a bathroom in its Providence, Rhode Island outpost. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, videos taken from the hidden camera were posted to “multiple pornographic website platforms,” thereby causing the plaintiff to experience “extreme emotional damages.”
While the plaintiff, who merely goes by “Jane Doe” in the complaint in order to protect her identity, does not formally accuse Forever 21 of “equip[ping] the employee locker room with any security system/security features to capture or keep a record of non-store employees and/or other unauthorized persons entering into the area designated as the employee locker room of the employee restroom,” she does allege that Forever 21 is liable, nonetheless.
In particular, she claims that the Los Angeles-based fast fashion giant “negligently, recklessly and wantonly allow[ed] a person(s), whose identity is unknown to plaintiff, to enter the employee locker room and the employee restroom, located in the store.”
According to a statement from Forever 21, as provided to WWD, “We want to make it clear that Forever 21 takes the privacy of our team members extremely seriously. We have zero tolerance for any type of inappropriate behavior, and we are committed to making Forever 21 a safe space for all employees, without exception. We have been actively investigating this matter, which has involved law enforcement, our legal team, and national investigation teams. We are committed to our employees and will continue to search out those responsible for this heinous act.”
Barbara Kolsun, one of the pioneers in the field of fashion law, discusses the future of the practice and how fashion, itself, as a business has changed rapidly over the past several decades.
One key takeaway for all brands, especially those in the early stages: "In almost all the start-ups that I worked for, the first thing that I discovered when I arrived was that there was nothing in writing. The first agreement that I had to draft was a design services agreement asking the designer to confirm that the designs belonged to the brand and assigning those designs to the brand. Often the brand didn’t appreciate why that was necessary. I think the same concept applies to technology. It’s really important to hammer home those rights and who owns what so you’ve addressed all possible permutations of where this is going to go."
BREXIT: Intellectual Property Rights Issues
The International Trademark Association (“INTA”) is closely monitoring the current negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom regarding the UK’s imminent withdrawal or “exit” from membership of the EU – otherwise known as “Brexit.” In representing some 30,000 trademark professionals and brand owners from major corporations as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises, law firms and nonprofits in more than 190 countries, INTA is in a unique and balanced position to provide input on Brexit.
The organization released an analysis of INTA’s concerns about the impact of Brexit on intellectual property rights. It discusses what the Association believes should be the required core principles for Brexit and the key issues to address. You can find the report, in its entirety, right here.