IP Rights in the Fashion Industry: Leveraging Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents to Protect Designs and Strengthen Brands

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to IP counsel advising designers and others in the fashion industry on managing key intellectual property challenges. The panel will discuss infringement and enforcement, as well as utilizing trademark, copyright and design patent law to protect IP rights and enhance the brand.


The economic impact from the sale of knockoff, counterfeit and other infringing fashion products is overwhelming. With today’s “fast fashion" trends and modern technology, cell phone photos taken during a fashion show can be used to quickly manufacture less expensive replicas for production and distribution, sometimes even before the designer has the original design on the market.

Because it is difficult for designers to protect the entire look of a fashion product itself under U.S. law, designers and their counsel must look to trademark, trade dress, copyright and patent law to obtain protection for different elements of the designs. For example, trademark law can protect the name and logo, as well as design elements that are non-functional and serve as source identifiers. While copyright law does not protect functional items, it can protect things like patterns, prints, and design elements that can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspect of the item. Design patents are useful at protecting novel, nonobvious and ornamental fashion products and accessories.

Listen as our authoritative panel examines IP issues in the fashion industry. The panel will discuss securing IP rights and monitoring for infringement and handling IP disputes. The panel will offer strategies on how to best use trademark, trade dress, copyright and patent law to protect fashion design and strengthen a brand.


  1. Protecting IP rights in the fashion industry
    1. Trademark
    2. Trade dress
    3. Copyright
    4. Design patent
  2. Combating counterfeiting
  3. Monitoring for infringement
    1. Infringement
    2. Response
  4. Trademark disputes


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the infringement vulnerabilities for designers?
  • How can designers leverage trademark, trade dress, copyright and design patent protection to enhance the brand?
  • What strategies should IP counsel employ to enforce IP rights in the fashion industry?


Theodore C. Max, Partner
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, New York

Mr. Max is a member of the firm’s Entertainment, Technology and Advertising, and Intellectual Property Practice Groups, focusing on counseling clients on IP issues and litigation. He is Co-Leader of the firm's Fashion and Apparel Team. Mr. Max has counseled clients on and litigated numerous cases involving issues on the cutting edge of copyright and trademark law. He has assisted clients in identifying, protecting and preserving their intellectual property assets, including seeking registration of rights in the U.S. and internationally and taking action against infringements of copyrights, trademarks and trade dress. He also has experience developing and implementing anti-counterfeiting programs and pursuing civil and criminal enforcement remedies.

Natasha N. Reed, Counsel
Foley Hoag, New York

Ms. Reed focuses her practice on all aspects of trademark and copyright law with an emphasis on global protection for multinational businesses. She assists clients in developing strategic plans for enforcing their global brands, from managing trademark portfolios to litigation involving among other areas, trademark and copyright infringement, anti-counterfeiting, and false advertising, to negotiating and drafting trademark licenses. She specializes in IP enforcement and anti-counterfeiting/anti-piracy litigation. She advises right holders in a broad range of industry sectors, including fashion, luxury goods, and retail on strategies to strengthen domestic and foreign IP protection and enforcement.


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Intellectual Property Law Advisory Board

Stephen R. Baird


Winthrop & Weinstine

Charles S. Baker


Locke Lord

David S. Bloch


Winston & Strawn

Ian N. Feinberg


Feinberg Day Alberti & Thompson

Bassam N. Ibrahim


Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

Mark P. Wine



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