Briefing: July 29, 2022

The ability of brands to freely boast about the “green” or “environmentally-friendly” nature of their offerings without necessarily being able to back them up may be coming to a halt. In the midst of a growing number of false advertising-focused lawsuits in the U.S., the most recent of which was filed against H&M (see below), the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has revealed that it is looking into sustainability-centric claims made by ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to determine whether the fashion companies are duping consumers by way of “misleading” sustainability-driven marketing. Given that both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the CMA, along with individual plaintiffs, have shown rising interest in pursuing companies that they suspect are engaging in practices that amount to greenwashing, companies are being encouraged to pay close attention to their advertising efforts on this front. More about that here.

On the trademark realm, this week, as part of a monthly deep dive, we took a look at a number of currently-pending cases that I think are worth keeping an eye on. As I noted, no shortage of these cases are expected to provide guidance for brands and trademark practitioners, with matters that are being waged over the use of marks on virtual goods/services (i.e., in the metaverse) and/or in connection with NFTs, likely to be especially useful. You can find Parts I and II (combined) here.

In terms of a new lawsuit this week, designer Christian Siriano is being sued for trademark infringement and unfair competition by THE COLLECTIVE, a Stamford, Connecticut-based company in the business of providing “curated home furnishing products and services” in the wake of opening a home furnishings store “just miles away in nearby Westport” called The Collective West earlier this month. (Here’s the complaint.)

And in deal-making news (or better yet, deal-making insight) this week: Companies, including in the apparel space, are continuing to look at supply-chain focused investments and deals to help bolster their supply chains. (This is, of course, not a new trend for luxury names.) “There are many companies out there that are trying to get a grip on their supply chain,” Kurt Haegeman, global chair of consumer goods at Baker McKenzie, told Reuters, which noted that “making sure that [acquisition] targets meet potential upcoming European Commission sustainability requirements has also given some companies pause before making bids.”