A report yesterday that heritage sportswear retailer, Fred Perry has reached a settlement with Topshop following allegations of trade mark infringement highlights how those who seek to piggyback off the investments made by brand owners should be tackled.

Brand integrity is critical to the success of a brand. This means:

  • maintaining your trade mark portfolio;
  • registering new designs where appropriate; and
  • dealing with infringers in a way which deters them and others from injuring your brand again..

In the case of Fred Perry, a key part of the brand for over half a century has been the stylised laurel wreath applied to the breast of knitwear, polo shirts and other products in the Fred Perry range. Earlier this year, Topshop were found to be selling knitwear using a very similar stylised laurel wreath. Clearly, given the close visual similarities, there were then discussions behind closed doors.

Fred Perry is the owner of trade marks around the world (although the European trade mark is currently subject to a cancellation action) and would have been able to claim substantial goodwill and reputation in the use of its laurel logo on clothing, and, in particular, knitwear. Further, there would also be copyright in the artistic work comprising the logo.

This is not the first time that Topshop has been in hot water about being, perhaps, too closely inspired by other designer’s products. Earlier this year, it apologised to jewellery designer, Wendy Brandes (via Twitter) and withdrew sets of rings which were alleged to be too close to her swear rings sets (OMG, LOL etc). It also removed a laser cut dress which was alleged to be similar to one produced by designer Yasmin Kianfar and again issued a carefully worded apology on Twitter.

For further information on how to protect your brand please get in touch.

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