Briefing: June 23, 2023

Pharrell’s LV Debut, AI, FTC v. Amazon & More

Pharrell made his debut as Louis Vuitton’s menswear director on Wednesday, sending 70+ looks down the runway in Paris. Given that so much of the importance and appeal of Louis Vuitton’s wares (and those of similarly situated companies) stems from the company’s extensive portfolio of trademarks, it came as little surprise that no shortage of the SS24 menswear offerings came in the form of new takes on Louis Vuitton’s famed Damier print – which the company’s namesake founder first developed back in 1888. From a camo-inspired pixelated version of the print to woven leather versions on bags & texturized versions on apparel, Pharrell’s new take has a name: “Damouflage.”

“Damier is back,” Alexandre Arnault asserted on Instagram following the show, and it appears to be here to stay, with Pharrell telling the New York Times that he will continue to play with the pattern, and “[e]very season it’s going to be a different colorway.”

Also worth noting in connection with the collection: It brought the debut of the first item that LV “Treasure Trunk” NFT holders will have access to. Vogue Biz noted that the orange Speedy monogram bag that went down the runway will be available exclusively for the individuals who shelled out almost $42k for the NFTs. There are reportedly almost 100 LV NFT holders as of now.

Reflecting on the Damier-centric collection, Vogue’s Luke Leitch stated that the new “damouflage” prints are “instantly recognizable” as part of Louis Vuitton’s house codes, which is, of course, not a view held by all. While Louis Vuitton maintains an array of registrations for its Damier marks (in the U.S. and beyond), the brand has faced hurdles in registering at least one of its takes on the Damier print as a trademark in the EU on the basis of lack of acquired distinctiveness. (More about that here.)

The pixelated version of the print – which made its way onto some 28% of the collection, per SYKY – seems to be getting the most buzz. As for the “MARQUE L.VUITTON DEPOSEE” wording (REGISTERED L.VUITTON BRAND) that appeared inside the Damier checks in the Pharrell collection (and in ones from his predecessor Virgil Abloh), Louis Vuitton has a TM application for registration pending in France for use across Classes 9, 14, 18, and 25, which it filed in March.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It will be interesting to see what LV does from a trademark perspective when it comes to all of these new takes on its classic print. Stay tuned.

In other luxury news: Bain & Company and Altagamma’s 2023 spring luxury study is in. They say that the global luxury goods market accelerated after record 2022 & is set for further growth this year (by 5-12%), despite slowing momentum on economic warning signs. Key challenges for the industry in the midterm, according to the report, are linked to ESG regulatory pressures, the impact of generative AI & new technologies on all steps of the value chain.

A Few Litigation Updates …

– FTC v. AmazonThe FTC sued, Inc. this week over its use of “manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions.” The e-commerce titan also “knowingly mak[es] it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions to Prime” by way of a “four-page, six-click, fifteen-option” process, according to the FTC.

– Shein v. Temu: A fed. court in Illinois has denied fellow Chinese retail giant Temu’s motion to dismiss Shein’s first amended complaint, as based on the filing of the second amended complaint, Temu’s motion is moot. (More about that case here.)

– Backgrid v. Twitter: Backgrid is pushing back against Twitter’s attempt to get the © case against it tossed out for allegedly failing to “take down even one posting or user account” after receiving 6,700+ DMCA takedown notices from the paparazzi photo agency. (The opposition can her found here.)

– Mata v. Avianca: The lawyer who used ChatGPT to write a brief that included citations to non-existent cases was ordered to pay $5k & mail other judges a copy of the order and the transcript of the hearing this week. Some of the relevant language …

A Quick TM Tidbit: Telfar, the New york-based fashion brand known for its cult shopping bag, has withdrawn part of its application for registration with the USPTO for its TC logo – namely, dropping Classes 3 & 9 from the app. – following an opposition clash initiated by beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury, which consented to the partial abandonment this week. (More about that here.)

In some deal-making news in the fashion/retail, tech & web3 segments …

– Frasers Group has taken a 5% stake in Boohoo in a strategic move given the fast fashion retailer’s “attractive proposition to us with its laser focus on young female consumers.”

– DREST, which merges fashion w/ web3, has raised £15M in a round led by Graham Edwards’ family office with participation from fellow co-founder & co-CEO Lucy Yeomans.

– Leap, which “launches & operates insight-driven retail stores, has raised $15M in a new round.

– Lenzing Group & Södra have received a €10M grant to scale their OnceMore venture, which consists of “an innovative industrial-scale system for recycling blended textile waste by fiber solutions.”

– Swave Photonics has raised €3M in a Seed+ round in furtherance of its aim to “improve the visualization & communication markets w/ immersive, ultra-high-resolution, lifelike, holographic displays.”

– Japan’s leading AI platform developer, FLUX Inc. has raised $32M in a Series B round.

– Parrot has raised $11M to further build out its AI-meets-legal tech platform for transcribing & managing depositions.

– ECFX has raised $7M; the co. provides  electronic court notice management for law firms & corporate legal teams.