New York-based accessories brand, Mansur Gavriel is the latest to rely on design patent protection to ward off copycats. On the receiving end of two new design patents, the brand is clearly in line with a larger trend in the industry. Also trending: undisclosed advertising in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines. A new brand/influencer deal may potentially shed light on brands’ widespread missteps in terms of truth in advertising laws. Still yet, with Delpozo revealing it will open a flagship in Dubai, the Middle Eastern city continues to emerge as a luxury shopping destination but is also home to widespread counterfeiting efforts.
Mansur Gavriel Looks to Design Patents to Ward off Copiers
While Mansur Gavriel may be plotting its expansion into ready-to-wear (designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel will debut apparel during New York Fashion Week in September), the design duo’s strength to date lies in the brand’s accessories. And after being subject to widespread, and oftentimes blatant, copying since the company’s launch in 2013, the designers have turned their attention to legal protections, namely design patents.
Within the past few months, Mansur Gavriel has been awarded two design patents — one for its “Elegant” satchel and the other for its “Sun” tote. Such legal protections thereby allow the brand to ward off copycats not only with common law trade dress claims (which the brand has relied on in connection to at least one lawsuit in the past) but also with stronger design patent infringement allegations.
In turning to this form of protection, which extends to the “new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” the design duo joins an array of other brands, including Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, which all rely heavily on design patents.
Given the time and expense associated with attaining design patent protection, it is safe to say that the brand intends to utilize the two styles at issue for quite a while to come. Brands typically only apply for design patent protection, which can cost upward of $10,000 per patent and about 18 months to attain, for items they plan to maintain as brand staples.
BareMinerals Signs Deal With Influencer Ingrid Nilsen
As WWD reported exclusively earlier this week, BareMinerals is said to be paying blogger and Instagram influencer Ingrid Nilsen more than $500,000 to front and promote the company’s two best-selling foundation ranges, making it one of the biggest contracts between a blogger and brand to date. Such deals, which inevitably come with a heavy social media component, thereby allowing brands to tap into influencers’ vast audiences, have proven particularly problematic in the past, namely in connection with the widespread potential of federal truth in advertising laws.
In a similarly high-profile deal between influencer and blogger Aimee Song and cosmetics company Laura Mercier, initiated last year, both parties came under fire when Song posted a string of Mercier-related content on Instagram and her blog without disclosing her connection to the company, as required by the Federal Trade Commission.
A large handful of other influencers and celebrities — including the Kardashian-Jenners, David and Victoria Beckham, Emily Ratajkowski, Chrissy Teigen, Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad, Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller, Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, and others — have been called out by industry watchdogs and bloggers alike for allegedly failing to abide by the FTC’s guidelines, which require paid-for posts to be clearly identified as such. Common disclosure tactics include using #sponsored or #ad along with the posts at issue.
The FTC has yet to take action against individual influencers to date. However, statements from FTC deputies – and a recent ruling in which Warner Bros. Home Entertainment was charged with deceiving customers by paying Internet influencers to promote one of its video games without disclosing that they were paid — suggest that it may begin looking at influencer activity much more closely in the future.
And with six-figure deals becoming something of a growing trend among consumer goods brands and the industry’s most well-known influencers, as well as small ones, known as micro-influencers, chances are the FTC is keeping its eyes on this phenomenon.
Dubai: A Continuing Hot Bed of Luxury Activity
Delpozo, the Spanish brand known for its couturelike detailing and architectural silhouettes, has revealed it will open a flagship in Dubai, its first brick-and-mortar foray into the market in the Middle East. The impending launch comes on the heels of a larger push to curb the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods in Dubai and the greater United Arab Emirates, which has been identified as a key growth opportunity for Western luxury brands.
Led largely by Louis Vuitton and its 2015 partnership with the Dubai Department of Economic Development — in which the parties signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on protecting the Paris-based design house’s intellectual property rights and combating counterfeiting both online and in physical markets — the efforts to stamp out counterfeit goods and corresponding consumer uncertainty in connection therewith make sense. Luxury brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Miu Miu, Prada, Céline, Gucci and Fendi have descended upon the city to operate outposts, and the Dubai Mall boasts a waiting list of brands that want in.
That desire is mutual: Dubai officials want to keep brands there in order to continue to build tourism, which serves as an integral part of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. As such, it is in its best interest to work with brands to keep counterfeits out of legitimate retail spaces, and to instill confidence in consumers that its retail environment is one of both luxury and authenticity.
Julie Zerbo is the founder of The Fashion Law.