Many fashion designers use their name in commerce as a trademark and register it with the USPTO.
Some designers enter into licensing or business arrangements that involve the use of their name as a trademark. Fairly often, the licensing or business arrangement will go sour or end in a less than amicable way. There are as many reasons a business deal might go sour as there are stars in the sky.
Many fashion designers have lost the right to use their name in commerce because their business deals weren’t structured in a way to protect the designers. Some famous examples include: Donna Karan, Helmut Newton, Elizabeth Emanuel, Joseph Abboud, Jil Sander, Hervé Léger, Hazel Bishop, Henry Dunay, Shauna Stein, Roland Mauret, and Nino Cerruti, just to name a few.
Most recently, just two days after receiving a CFDA nomination for Best Menswear Designer, Simon Spurr apparently terminated his business partnership with Judd Nydes. According to an article in the New York Times, “Mr. Nydes says that the Simon Spurr label will continue without the designer’s involvement…”
If you’re a designer, please remember to protect yourself from someone else “owning” your name. A license or business investment should be structured in such a way that you maintain involvement in the business for as long as the business is allowed to use your name.
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