Summary: In a recent “Law.com” article titled “Too Big to Succeed: Lessons from the Ye / Adidas Brand Partnership,” Crowell attorneys discuss the unraveling of Ye (Kanye) West’s brand partnerships; particularly with Adidas. In the article, they explore Ye’s partnership deal, how the deal was likely terminated, and what brands need to know to manage

I. Introduction

In recent news it was reported that Ikea, a globally well-known furniture company, sent a cease and desist letter to the gaming studio Ziggy following the announced release by the latter of a video game called “The store is closed”. The video game is still in development, but it has been characterized as a survival horror game set in an Ikea-like furniture store called “STYR”. The idea of the video game is to explore, craft weapons, build fortifications and try to survive the night in the furniture store.

Although the video game is unreleased, Ikea discovered that the gaming studio Ziggy was raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign. In total Ziggy was able to already raise several tens of thousands of dollars in a short period of time. From its discovery, Ikea immediately sent a cease and desist letter demanding certain changes as the “game uses a blue and yellow sign with a Scandinavian name on the store, a blue box-like building, yellow vertical stiped shirts identical to those worn by IKEA personnel, a gray path on the floor, furniture that looks like IKEA furniture, and product signage that looks like IKEA signage. All the foregoing immediately suggest that the game takes place in an IKEA store”.

Continue Reading Ikea’s Battle Against Horror Games: The Importance of Intellectual Property Rights

In the past several years, the market for counterfeit goods has grown rampantly. Estimates of the total value of counterfeit goods sold each year range from $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion. Makers of luxury goods are among the hardest-hit industries, as well as those dealing in footwear, apparel, fine art, and collectables. The rise of online shopping has further thwarted companies’ ability to protect their brands. Illegitimate sellers on e-commerce marketplaces employ techniques like posting fake positive reviews and using copyrighted branding to reach consumers and sell counterfeit goods.      

Continue Reading Anti-Counterfeit Measures Help Brands Protect Against the Trafficking of Fake Products

On November 21, 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed—after passing on the issue once before—to hear Jack Daniel’s (JDPI) challenge to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in VIP Prods. LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Props, where the Ninth Circuit affirmed without opinion the district court’s grant of summary judgment to VIP and the dismissal of JDPI’s trademark infringement claim,[1] on the grounds that JDPI could not satisfy either prong of the Rogers test. The Rogers test balances free expression under the First Amendment against the trademark protections of the Lanham Act. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the questions of whether parody uses of another’s mark receive First Amendment protection from liability under the Lanham Act and whether parody is exempt from claims of dilution by tarnishment under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(3)(C). The decision could clarify the balance between trademark and the First Amendment, an issue that has long-confounded practitioners.

Continue Reading More Bark or Bite? U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether the First Amendment Has the Teeth to Protect Whiskey Bottle Shaped Dog Toy Maker from Jack Daniel’s Lanham Act Claims

Allegations of trademark infringement against celebrity-founded brands are not new. In 2015, resort-wear brand Island Company LLC sued Kendall and Kylie Jenner for use of the phrase “Run Away, Fall in Love, Never Return,” which resembled Island Company’s trademark phrase “Quit Your Job, Buy a Ticket, Get A Tan, Fall In Love, Never Return”.[1] The case was settled in January 2016. In 2021, an Italian tribunal ordered social media influencer Chiara Ferragni to pull her snow boots from her footwear line, finding infringement on Tecnica group’s trademark for the world-renowned Moonboot.[2] Now, Vans, Inc., a sneaker company born out of 1960s California counter-culture, alleges trademark infringement by MSCHF, a Brooklyn art collective endorsed by rapper Tyga.

Continue Reading Fashionable Parody or a Trademark Infringing Wearable Sneaker? The Second Circuit Hears Both Sides.

In a recent Law360 article titled, “Penn State TM Case’s Impact On Merchandising And Beyond,” Crowell attorneys Cheryl Howard and David Ervin discuss the broader industry ramifications of Pennsylvania State University’s lawsuit against Vintage Brand LLC and the favored outcome for Vintage Brand. In the case, Pennsylvania State University filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement against

In the recent article, “Why Hermès’ MetaBirkins Lawsuit Has High Stakes for Brands and Creators”, featured in The Business of Fashion, Partner Preetha Chakrabarti expands upon her insights from the her previous blog posts on non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) and the metaverse. Previously, Chakrabarti reported on how the designer, Hermès, sued an individual named Mason

Earlier this year, Hermès filed a trademark infringement suit against Los Angeles-based designer Mason Rothschild for creating and selling faux-fur digital renditions of the luxury Hermès Birkin handbags and using a collection of 100 NFTs, titled “MetaBirkins,” to authenticate the digital images.[1] In response, Rothschild filed a motion to dismiss Hermès’ trademark infringement claim under the Rogers test on the basis that the digital images of the Birkin bags are “art” and, therefore, receive First Amendment protection.[2] Hermès opposed, arguing that the Polaroid factors— instead of the Rogers test—should apply, to assess likelihood of confusion.[3] On May 18, 2022, the court denied Rothschild’s motion to dismiss, concluding that: (1) the Rogers test applies to the trademark infringement analysis of the “MetaBirkins” title, and (2) the Polaroid factors apply to the explicit misleadingness analysis.[4]

Continue Reading In the bag (for now): Hermès survives motion to dismiss in MetaBirkin NFT lawsuit

In a recent Law360 article titled, “Meta Logo Suit May Test How Virtual TM Disputes Unfold,” Partner Preetha Chakrabarti provided her insight on a lawsuit against the similarity between Meta’s infinity-loop logo to a Swiss blockchain company’s logo and the increase in moving, multidimensional logos in the digital space. In the article, Chakrabarti emphasized the

In recent months, the metaverse, a term that is meant to encompass a mixture of virtual reality and augmented reality, has increasingly become a conversation topic for companies and consumers. Companies have begun to invest in this space and have started staking out virtual property on platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. Lawsuits and trademark applications have also popped up alongside these investments. This recent legal activity indicates that the metaverse will be a critical area for companies to begin to learn about and monitor to ensure they are adequately protecting their intellectual property and avoiding risk.

In January 2022, designer Hermès sued an individual named Mason Rothschild in the Southern District of New York for his creation and sale of “Metabirkins,” which are non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) that resemble fur-covered versions of Hermès’ iconic Birkin bag. Among other things, the complaint alleges that Rothschild has engaged in trademark and trade dress dilution and infringement by selling his NFTs, one of which has already sold for $40,000, just as one would by selling a counterfeit physical bag. Interestingly, Hermès’ complaint notes that the defendant’s activity is preempting Hermès from entering the NFT market itself.
Continue Reading See You in the Metaverse: What Brands Need to Know