Designer Phillip Lim, who was awarded the 2013 Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for accessories design, is paving new ground in the trademark arena, as well. Turns out, Mr. Lim’s 3.1 Phillip Lim signature logo, which serves as his trademark in the U.S. and the other international markets where his ready-to-wear is sold, is held by an unaffiliated entity in China.

The designer’s legal team has taken action against the Chinese individual who holds the 3.1 Phillip Lim trademark in China for use in the clothing and footwear categories, but in the meantime, the designer has introduced a new China-specific mark that will begin appearing on the brand’s Pre-Fall 2013 garments and accessories. As of now, all other markets will maintain Lim’s existing signature-based logo. 

The unidentified individual, who holds the trademark rights to Lim’s signature logo, received full trademark privileges for it in 2007. So, while Lim had been serving the Chinese market since 2005, he was out of luck, unfortunately due to the truly widespread amount of trademark hijacking and cybersquatting at play in China, where it is extremely common for third parties to register others’ trademarks and domain names with the intent of profiting – either from the goodwill of another’s trademark or attempting to hold the registrations for random. 

Moral of the story: Trademark your logos early, designers – both in the U.S. and abroad. Thanks to the Madrid Protocol, U.S.-based trademark owners with an application filed in or a registration issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may file an international application, seeking protection in the 88 countries that are party to the Protocol. Other “Contracting Parties” include China, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, UK, and more.