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Stella McCartney, Steve Madden in Legal Battle Over Knockoff Bags

Stella McCartney and Steve Madden are two of the most famous names in fashion design. Now, they’re set to battle it out not on the runway, but in the courthouse. McCartney recently filed a law suit against Madden, alleging that the Madden’s BTotally tote bag infringes upon her company’s Falabella bag.

UK-based McCartney’s 22-page complaint, filed in New York federal court, claims that Madden’s bag, which sells for $108, mimics “every key element” of her own, which hit the market first and sells for $1195. Charges levied include trade dress infringement and design patent infringement, trade dress dilution, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

In the fashion world, trade dress infringement and dilution are particularly troubling intellectual property issues. Trade dress laws are designed to protect designers and makers of items that are unique, unusual or widely recognized by the public. The term “trade dress” refers to a product’s physical appearance, including its size, shape, color, design and texture. It may also refer to the way a particular product is packaged, labeled, presented or promoted to consumers, including the use of distinctive graphics, configurations and marketing strategies.

Trade dress cases typically arise when two products are similar enough to cause confusion among consumers. In court, the win usually goes to the designer or maker with the more established or recognizable product. Legal remedies include:

  • Injunctive relief: A court-issued restraining order that prohibits one party from further creating or marketing infringing items.
  • Money damages: Compensation for any financial losses that a complainant suffered because of an infringement.

If you are a fashion or accessories designer and believe that a competitor is infringing upon your trade dress or design patents, contact Orlando’s Daniel Law Offices at 407-841-8375 or toll-free at 866-37PATENT. 

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