How to police your trademark as a fashion brand

Fashion companies have to be extremely reactive when protecting their brands since their marketplace is constantly evolving and new products are hitting the shelves every day. Copycat products generally emerge soon after the original launch and therefore fashion companies have to act fast in order to protect their trademarks.

Registering a trademark for every single new brand that is launched however, would be extremely costly and is therefore not recommended. Fashion companies tend to register trademarks only for their long term brands and rely on copyright protection for more short term products.

According to the World IP Review, counterfeit goods and lookalike goods can rob the fashion industry of millions of dollars worth of profit each year if they are not eliminated from the market. Therefore trademark policing is one of the most important factors for a fashion company to take into consideration in order to hit its profit targets. Deckers, the American footwear brand, is very hot on protecting its “UGG” trademark in China, the US and Europe and has even filed lawsuits against companies outside of these areas in order to protect their brand value .

For this reason, fashion brands have to plan their long term business portfolios and register for their trademarks well in advance of their launch dates to ensure the protection of their new lines and save them money in the long term when they need to expand their product range.

However, in the fashion industry, designs of products are regularly imitated and therefore a fashion brand would need to have another form of protection for their design rights. Therefore, many choose to file colour and three-dimensional marks to increase the protection of their brands. Christian Louboutin for example has successfully trademarked the red soles of his shoes in a number of countries around the world including the US and Jean Paul Gaultier has a three-dimensional trademark for his distinctive perfume bottle designs.

When registering their trademarks a fashion company should always take into consideration the suitability of the mark for the locations into which they are likely to expand as this can reduce the likelihood of  setbacks due to compliancy issues in the future. Furthermore, many jurisdictions, such as China, have a first-come-first-serve approach when it comes to trademarks. Chinese law states that for a company to be successful in their  trademark application they have to first prove that their brand already is well known in China, which can make it difficult for foreign companies to safely enter their market. Some chinese companies have now taken to registering names of big foreign corporates in order to profit from them so that when the foreign company does try to enter the chinese market they would be forced to either fight for their rights in court, rebrand their product or give in and buy back their own trademark.

A trademark is a worthwhile investment as it will protect your fashion brand and allow you to enforce your trademark rights over copycats and companies producing counterfeit goods who are consciously infringing on your mark. It is also recommended to file a trademark application before launching your product or services into the market to ensure that they are fully protected.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website,

Our unique database of trademarks for sale or license could save you time and help protect your brand.