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INTA Bulletin


April 15, 2017 Vol. 72 No. 7 Back to Bulletin Main Page

INTA Conference Explores How Technology Is Changing the Fashion Industry


INTA’s Brands and Fashion Conference brought together more than 350 registrants from the United States and across the globe for a two-day opportunity to hear from industry and brand experts from the legal, business, and creative sectors regarding the establishment of brands on a global level. Lawyers and industry professionals shared experiences, recommendations and insights into protection and enforcement of intellectual property, as well as maintenance of consumer awareness in the fashion industry.

Conference Co-Chairs Jessica Cardon and Marie-Laure Bonnaffous (Fendi Adele SRL, Italy) assembled speakers with a variety of different perspectives on fashion and branding, with a particular focus on how technology advances have changed and continue to change the business of fashion. Registrant Michelle Francis (The Francis Company, USA) said that the opportunity to hear many different viewpoints and strategies in the context of an overall fashion industry focus was a key reason that she attended the conference.

Launching and Maintaining a Fashion Brand

Keynote speaker Mercedes Castillo (pictured above right), former creative director of accessories at Tory Burch, kicked off the conference and was joined by senior executives of Camuto Group to discuss the business and advertising strategies they employed to launch a new luxury brand, Ms. Castillo’s own luxury collection. The panel discussed challenges and insights in the context of developing a new brand’s identity.

A panel discussion relating to strategies for long-term protection and brand revival addressed the challenges to keep a brand relevant while preserving its iconic qualities. Panelists shared how brands can stay true to their brand recognition while embracing new technologies and strategies.

Staying Current

Current events factored squarely into a panel discussion titled “Corporate Compliance: What IP Lawyers Need to Know to Stay out of Trouble.”  The panelists drew connections to the fashion industry from the global reach of U.S. law, the Foreign Corrupt Trade Practices Act (FCPA), North Korean sanctions, Brexit, and the Trump presidency. Using hypotheticals, the panelists underscored the importance of such considerations. For example, they discussed potential liability for seemingly innocuous things like gifts and hospitality, freebies, giveaways, and discounts in the context of possible corrupt or illegal trade practices.

Midway through the first day, cell phones vibrated and participants murmured as they learned that the Supreme Court decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands had just been issued. This news made for lively discussions at the coffee break and was adeptly addressed by panelists the next day, who adapted their discussions to include this new and timely development.

Designs Discussions


An interesting discussion on enforcement of unregistered designs in various countries, including the United States, highlighted the very different protection regimes relating to unregistered designs. This theme continued into a panel on protection and enforcement of copyrights, designs, unregistered shapes of products, and unconventional marks specifically in China, with representatives from New Balance Athletics and Inter IKEA Holding Services SA sharing stories and pictures which illustrated the importance of brand protection and enforcement in China. The first day of the conference wrapped up with a discussion of the challenges of co-branding initiatives, including with charitable entities, celebrities, and fashion influencers. Many of the registrants then joined INTA’s Pre–Annual Meeting Reception in midtown Manhattan to network and learn about the upcoming INTA Annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Effective Enforcement

The second day of the conference included an informative session on brand protection at the borders (pictured below), including tips and strategies on using U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect brands against counterfeits. Alaina Leigh Van Horn of the CBP and U.S. practitioners reminded registrants of the three “R’s” of trademark enforcement by the CBP: Register, Record, and Renew. Heather McDonald (Baker Hostetler LLP, USA), co-chair of the Anticounterfeiting Committee, referred to recordation of U.S. trademark registrations as a cornerstone of an effective enforcement strategy.

Create an Experience

Registrants also heard about creating a customer experience through sustainability efforts and altruistic branding, and the two-way expansion from brick and mortar stores to online presence and, somewhat surprisingly, from being a well-known online brand to opening brick and mortar stores. A panel on the value of diffusion brands discussed the value of diffusion brands from a historical perspective as well as from psychological, marketing, and legal perspectives.

Learning from the Best

The audience was treated to a wonderful presentation by Barbara Kolsun (Cardozo Law School, USA), a long-time and well-known fashion lawyer who provided insight into her own remarkable career and shared advice on how practicing lawyers can develop their very own brand.

The mark technology has left on the fashion business was on full display in a panel on Advertising and Promotion in the 21st Century Global Marketplace, where panelists were joined by Agata (Agie) Samperi, a young Italian social media influencer who traveled from Italy with her mother to share with the audience how her peers (who are significantly younger than anyone else in the room) like to be exposed to brands and fashion and how they use social media. The conference ended with a discussion on what fashion might look like in 20 years.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2017 International Trademark Association