As you know, the Fashion Industry is ever evolving. Each season everything changes, from textures to colors and trends that come and go within decades.

If you are an emerging designer this article is for you. We are going to show you how to protect your brand, which should be a high priority in your “To Do List” if you are planning to create your own product line or a new collection.

We know legal matters can seem boring, but protecting your trade mark should be a priority. Why? Because it represents the identity of your business and it could become the main source of income for your company.

Successful and well-known businesses and entrepreneurs develop a business plan and invest time and money in creating a trade mark that truly represents the company and its values. They also create an Intellectual Property Portfolio of trade marks and other registrations, such trade mark, copyright, and so on.

But, what is a trade mark?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, “A trade mark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trade marks are protected by intellectual property rights.”

A fashion designer can protect his/her name as a trade mark, e.g.: Carolina Herrera, or create a name to protect his/her product line, e.g. Banana Republic.

How can you protect your trade mark?

Overall, trade mark protection is obtained through registration. You need to file a trade mark application and pay government fees, at your local trade mark office.

Every local trade mark office, such as the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), the UKIPO (UK Intellectual Property Office)  has different practices; in some place like Mexico you can obtain double registration, that is, you can protect your name as trade mark at the trade mark office and also protect your name as a “Stage Name” at the Copyright Office.

In the United States, you can protect your name as a trade emark, in as many classes as you need at the USPTO.

In the European Union, you can protect your name, applying for an EU Trade mark (EUTM) at EUIPO. It is great for those companies or individuals who wish to protect their trade mark in all countries part of the European Union. For now there are 28 member countries. It remains to be seen what will happen after BREXIT. In this connection, please check out  a previous article here.

If you have plans to expand internationally, you then need to protect your trade mark in every country where you plan to do business. You have various options:

  • Single trade mark registration in every country.
  • International Registration System, through the Madrid Protocol. World Intellectual Property Organization. WIPO
  • Regional registration ( EUIPO – 28 jurisdictions)  
  • Mixed system 

Consult an IP lawyer or trade mark attorney to find out what laws or regulations apply to your country and define the best international trade mark filing strategy.

What rights does trade mark registration provide?
First, it gives you the exclusive right to use your registered trade mark. That means nobody can use or reproduce your trade mark without permission. Secondly, it gives you the exclusive right to profit from your trade mark. And finally it also becomes an asset of your company. An “intangible asset”. Not bad huh?

How long does trade mark protection last?
In general trade mark registrations last for 10 years, with the option for renewal for the same amount of time, as many times as needed. If you don´t apply for a trade mark registration renewal after the 10 year period, your will lose all rights to your trade mark. That means, any third party can use it without any restriction and even apply to get trade mark registration under its name.

What kinds of trade marks can be registered?
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO, a word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals can constitute a trade mark. Trade marks may also include drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features- the possibilities are almost limitless with the EUIPO since the european legislation has deleted the graphic representation requirement in european trade mark application forms. 

What is the best option for you?
Every designer has different needs, but we suggest you obtain a trade mark registration in your country of origin first, where it is more likely that you are working to develop a new clothing line or collection, and then considering international expansion with further foreign trademark applications. If you are working in a different country, then you get a registration where you are working and creating your own mark. We encourage you to consult an IP lawyer or trade mark attorney to develop a legal strategy that allows you to protect your trade mark as needed and managing to protect the trademark in different countries without spending your whole budget from the beginning.

Protecting, managing and growing your trade mark is your responsibility.  Take the necessary steps to ensure you protect your trade mark, and with time and hard work, you will be able to make a profit and have legal certainty in relation to your brand identity.


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