THE FASHION LAW EXCLUSIVE – Watch out, copycats. Legally replicating Céline’s Luggage Tote just got a lot more difficult. As of Wednesday, Céline holds federal trade dress protection for its coveted Luggage Tote and will have a much easier time suing in connection with cheap copies. After filing to register the trademark in August 2013, the Paris-based design house was awarded protection for the pricey design, which consists of: “a three-dimensional configuration of a rectangular bag with extendable accordion-style sides, extruding parallel S wave designs on bag front, and rear, shield-shaped handle bracers designs on front and rear of bag […] As placed on the front of the bag, the zipper represents the mouth of a face design in which the handle supports appear to be the eyes and the S wave designs represent the facial outline.”
The Luggage Tote joins the likes of Céline’s Trapeze bag, which was awarded federal trademark protection this past May for “a mark consists of a three dimensional configuration of a rectangular handbag with exaggerated, extendible pleated sides with a single rolled handle attached to a flap that covers ¾ of the front of the bag and which attaches to the bag by a rectangular metallic closure located at the bottom center of the flap. The strap, handle, and clasp appearing in dotted lines are not claimed as a feature of the mark.”
Such moves on the part of Céline’s counsel are not surprising given the substantial investment the brand has made in designing and promoting such bags, as well as consistently reintroducing them each season. The Trapeze, which was first introduced in 2011, and the Luggage Tote, which made its debut in 2009, have each served as core bags for the brand that has become known for its exquisite textiles and impeccable cuts. Federal protection of these designs will not only serve as a deterrent against copying but will allow the brand to file lawsuits if (or better yet, when) such bags are copied. This past year alone, Michael Kors, Payless, Forever 21, Zara, Nasty Gal, H&M, and ASOS, among other brands, have offered copies of Céline’s most coveted bags.