Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Afro Chic

When Fashion Meets Mother Teresa, Louboutin, Louis Vuitton and Vilakazi Street Soweto

Nothings catches my eye like a little bit of fashion controversy and there is a been quite a bit in the news lately.

The BBC carried a story of why it was necessary to trade mark the dress/uniform of Mother Teresa, explaining, quite rightly in my view, that sometimes IP registration is required to preserve rather than to exploit. This BBC piece has implications for legacies too - the Nelson Mandela Foundation, for example, advocates that despite the best wishes of the icon not to commercialise his name, it is still necessary to protect it.

Then there was the opinion of AG Szpunar to the Court of Justice of the European Union that a red sole (in the context of a question involving of the famous Louboutin shoes) may not just be a colour but could also function as a shape in the context of the European Trade Mark Directive. The IPkat's Eleonora provides commentary here. This case will influence how African registries and courts protect colours and shapes. In particular it seeks to address the following, according to the post:

"Can a colour be considered akin to a shape, so that a sign that consists exclusively of a colour "which gives substantial value to the goods" cannot be registered as a trade mark?"

The answer appears to be yes, it can, and so the ruling of the Court will be interesting.

Closer to home, the IPLive blog of Adams & Adams is promoting their #IPEvening Series using the recent controversy over Basotho designs and well known fashion house Louis Vuitton as a case study. Speaking with Lita Miti-Qamata and Nic Rosslee, Afro-Chic has learnt that "fashion and crafts are a vibrant industry amongst entrepreneurs in Africa, and we are taking IP to the former townships to help entrepreneurs cost effectively use IP systems to create value for their creativity". You can learn more about that initiative here.

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