Designer Vs. Law

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It’s been all over the news. A local designer has quickly fallen from grace in the city that once applauded their designs and screamed their slogan from the top of skyscrapers. Peace Collective, made famous by the Toronto Blue Jays players, is embroiled in a heated legal dispute with a Detroit-based designer.

Designer Tommey Walker Jr. Initially created his Detroit Vs. Everybody in 2012 in response to his home city’s dismal reputation. Flash forward a few years, and Peace Collective’s notoriety reaches the ears of Walker. Walker claims that he has the international trademark of his now infamous slogan and that it was plagiarized by Peace Collective. Peace Collective’s solicitor argues that the Toronto brand owns the Canadian trademark. The slogans are nearly identical – same font, same layout – albeit with the city’s name changed. But Peace Collective aren’t the only company to jump on to the Vs. Everybody train – across the nation other brands are adopting the slogan to match their own community.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in court. Regardless of the outcome, designers should take heed and understand the importance of Fashion Law.

We often hear of fashion court cases. We all know that there is a designer bag black-market for knock-offs like Louis Vuitton and Prada – it was even spoofed in Sex & The City. It is not uncommon for fast fashion chains to be embroiled in back room legal scandals with lux labels whose designs have been knocked-off for a song on the high street before the designer pieces even hit stores. Companies like Urban Outfitters have developed a reputation for stealing designs from independent labels and small-scale craftsman.

We know this. It is fact. So what can a designer do? Protect yourself.

Fashion Law is one of the fastest growing sectors with numerous legal practitioners choosing to specialize in this area due to a growing number of cases. Fordham University has been the first centre in the world to offer a Fashion Law Institute devoted to the subject which is founded by Susan Scafidi. Blogs like Canada Fashion Law are a wealth of information and a dirt list on all the fashion law scandals happening right now, almost like an InTouch for the legally inclined.

Properly protecting your brand and your designs can be what saves you from a short story in the scene. Establishing your brand with help from a lawyer can help insure that you avoid any legal entanglements with your company name, that you are legally protecting and trademarking your intellectual property, and that you are set-up to navigate the perilous world of the fashion economy.

We recommend checking out Canada Fashion Law’s blog and also contacting the Toronto Fashion Incubator for help in starting out on the right legal footing.