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October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat?

Channel your inner Edna Mode with this superhero costume contest from Project Rooftop!  You redesign and don one of the classics, and if you win, graphic artist Dean Trippe will make your three-dimensional dream a 2D reality:

Does the contest promote the creation of potentially copyright-infringing derivative works or the unauthorized use of trademarks in superhero characters?  Well, probably.  But like fan fiction, the contest entries are more likely to benefit than harm the holders of rights in the original works.  (Just beware of engaging in commercial production.)  And for more on copyright in costumes themselves, click here.

Many thanks to Marty Schwimmer over at The Trademark Blog for this Halloween treat!

Horror Story for Halloween

Blood-thirsty vampires and flesh-eating zombies are all part of Halloween's faux terrors, but there are far worse monsters out there.

Take the copyright infringer who has stolen Kathleen Fasanella's book, for instance.

Many of you know Kathleen as the intelligent and informative author of Fashion Incubator, a wonderful website dedicated to patternmaking (Kathleen's professional expertise) and related topics.  She's also a generous soul who gave me a warm welcome to the blogosphere when I first began writing Counterfeit Chic.  What many of you may not know -- I certainly didn't -- is that Kathleen's website is supported by her book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing

Now it appears that a persistent copyist has taken not just sections of Kathleen's book, but the whole thing, and is selling allegedly "used" copies online at deeply discounted prices.  Kathleen has been fighting this problem for some time.  Now her sales have dropped by 90%, and as a result her site is in danger.  Read the whole story here -- and then buy a copy of the book from an authorized seller.

What good is intellectual property law if it can't stop horror stories like this one?  This isn't a squabble over sampling a few notes of a song or sharing an essay with a handful of friends.  It's wholesale theft, and a direct threat to Kathleen's ability to continue her work.

The truth is that law -- whether we're talking intellectual property or any other area -- is something of a luxury good.  Having rights is one thing; having the means to enforce them is another. 

October 30, 2006

What Would Schiaparelli Do?

Step aside, Miss Manners -- the European Court of Justice isn't convinced that matching one's handbag to one's shoes is a fashion necessity. 

In the words of a trademark judgment handed down by the court of first instance and affirmed by the ECJ:

[T]he applicant has failed to demonstrate, during either the proceedings before OHIM [Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market] or those before the Court, that this aesthetic or subjective complementary nature has reached the stage of a true aesthetic "nececessity" in the sense that consumers would think it unusual or shocking to carry a bag which does not perfectly match their shoes.

And lest there be any confusion, the court futher noted that handbags and shoes have different purposes, "shoes being used to dress feet and bags to carry objects."  All Counterfeit Chic can say is that it's a good thing we have highly trained legal professionals writing these opinions.

And yet...what would the fabulous mid-twentieth-century couturiere Elsa Schiaparelli have to say about such a narrow sartorial mindset?  Consider the visual evidence:

And the more recent creations of Tinuola Arowolo: 

Clearly shoes are far more versatile than the distinguished members of the court have opined!

Hat tip:  IP Talk

October 28, 2006

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Who needs television when you have YouTube?  Check out this candid video from StyleWiz, who interviewed New York Fashion Week attendees and asked whether their accessories were real or fake.

Then take a break for commercials, and look at silent but dramatic closeups of a "Louis Vuitton" and a "Gucci" from freereplica and guccilvcom, who are either the same person or clones.  Apparently eBay isn't the only giant online forum where suspect merchandise is advertised.  Catch these clips before they get caught!

October 26, 2006

Parade of Horribles

Radar's Dale Hrabi has "discovered" the inspiration for some of this season's most horrible handbags -- in horror movies.  Below is Exhibit F, one of seven sartorial creations that bear strange resemblence to cinematic creatures:

Charm and Luck purse with Predator

Copyright concerns?  Hardly -- even if Radar had tapped designers' secret source of new styles, any actual copying would be too minimal to raise the spectre of infringement of the moviemakers' right to prepare derivative works.  And while I'm not an expert on extraterrestrial rights, I doubt that this Predator could claim rights of publicity with respect to his (her? its?) image. 

So banish the ghoulish rules, and get to work on accessorizing your Halloween costume!

Many thanks to my creative Georgetown student David Barzelay for the link.

October 25, 2006

Knockoff News 37

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And it's not really the World Series, but for fellow baseball fans it might as well be:


October 24, 2006

Steal This Post

Abbie and Jack ages 8 and 5On the top row of one of my bookshelves, next to various academic volumes on intellectual property, rests a book by the late political activist Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book.  I'm not by any means either a socialist or a thief, depending on your perspective, but society needs radical voices to remind us of our sometimes too-comfortable assumptions.  And besides, the title makes me smile.

Next to Steal This Book now stands another book, Run, Run, Run, this one written about Abbie by his brother, Jack Hoffman, and inscribed to me personally.  How did I happen to meet Jack?  The story starts with fake handbags.

Earlier this year Jack Hoffman pled guilty in federal court to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.  He had offered the logoed designer handbags in question for sale at a flea market near his Massachusetts home, and he had also stored the back stock at his house.  Thus far, standard issue trademark infringement case.   

The Boston Globe, however, reported that Jack thought he was complying with the law because he tucked a card inside each handbag making it clear that the bag was a designer replica, not the real thing.  After all, the standard for infringement is "likelihood of consumer confusion," so it would stand to reason that if the consumer isn't confused, there's no violation, right? 

Wrong.  I regularly receive questions about this common legal misperception; in fact, I've heard a distinguished IP lawyer make the same error -- and argue about it when I attempted to correct him.  As I'm sure many Counterfeit Chic readers know by now, however, trademark law does not distinguish between point-of-sale confusion and post-sale confusion.  Thus if a consumer knowingly buys a fake but others who see it later might mistake it for the real thing, there's a violation.

Still, Jack seemed to have given a great deal of thought to the treacherous waters of trademark from the perspective of fairness and justice, so when he got in touch I was immediately intrigued.  Much later, when I asked him whether the newspaper article was correct, he told me that not only was there a card disavowing authenticity tucked inside each handbag, but each purchaser also received a copy of the card with her receipt.  Unlike some retailers on eBay or other unscrupulous con artists, Jack never intended to trick his customers or to be on the wrong side of the law.  As he told me, "I've never even shoplifted!"

Now, it's also true that counterfeiting of all sorts of products is a big business that can harm both consumers and companies to the tune of many millions of dollars, a point that I've noted in other fora.  As the problem is increasing, so is public awareness -- thanks in part to the efforts of law enforcement.  Several years ago, however, when Jack was selling "replica" handbags at a flea market, the issue had not yet received significant public attention.  In other words, Jack strikes me as essentially an honest individual who made a common mistake as to trademark law and got caught. 

And my guess is that being Abbie Hoffman's brother didn't help matters much for Jack, but that's just speculation.

Jack's sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow in Boston before Judge Reginald Lindsay.  And while many of you know that I have great sympathy for designers who are harmed by copying, I hope that in this case it's only the road to probation that is paved with good (or at least would-be legal) intentions.  (I can't be there, but I'll let you know how it goes.)

And for the rest of you, let me repeat:  Unless you spray-paint the word "FAKE" permanently across both sides of a counterfeit handbag, or similarly eliminate any possibility of consumer confusion at any point in the life of the trademarked object, selling the fake is a violation of the law.  Please proceed accordingly. 

SENTENCING UPDATE:  3 years of probation, the first 5 months of which will be in home detention with electronic monitoring.  Not anybody's favorite style ankle bracelet, but there you have it.

October 23, 2006

Fizzy Fake

If there must be pop counterfeits on Monday mornings, at least let them be effervescent.

Of course, 7 Up's official website reports that the soda originally contained small amounts of lithium (used to treat, among other things, depression and bipolar disorder), so perhaps the copy's concept isn't all that far off. 

Thanks to Flickr photographer Fabricedarrigrand for this Syrian shot. 

October 22, 2006

Be Prepared

A Boy Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

And oh yeah, he doesn't illegally download movies -- at least not in Los Angeles.

Defamer reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has sponsored a new "Respecting Copyrights" merit badge for local L.A. scout troops.  This latest potential addition to the uniform will no doubt prove controversial; presumably Richard Stallman already has a Copyleft badge in the works.  Or else has concluded that "we don't need no stinking badges."  (OK, you knew that was coming somewhere.)

The merit badge, however, is only the latest salvo in the copyright propaganda education wars.  Let's face it, most golden oldies and boomers aren't downloading, and Gen X and especially Gen Y are children of the Napster years.  But the hearts and minds of the world's youth are theoretically still up for grabs.  Why else would distinguished law profs be writing comic books about fair use or WIPO soliciting paintings by Chinese children to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day

What's next?  Crib mobiles with colorful copyright and trademark symbols?

October 21, 2006

Who's the Most L.A. of All?

As talented Project Runway Season 2 contestant Andrae Gonzalo notes, Los Angeles is the city that has "raised artifice to an art form."  So perhaps his warning that his infamous "I'm so L.A." T-shirt -- the one that he as wearing during his emotional runway meltdown -- and been copied and copied again is not unexpected.

Andrae Gonzalo T


Legal?  Unfortunately for Andrae, probably.  Although graphic designs are copyrightable subject matter, short phrases are not.  Could he have trademarked the phrase, "I'm so L.A."?  Possibly, if weren't considered too common.  Of course, the design itself could certainly serve as a trademark -- think New York State's battle to protect its "I [heart] NY" logo.  The alleged knockoffs in this case, however, are too different to fall into that trap.

Interested in an Andrae original?  He guarantees that it is "100% made and printed in Los Angeles....  No overseas kids in China sewing these shirts for 50 cents a day.  It's the real deal."  So head over to Andrae's blog or look for his signature on the T's. 

And coming soon for female fans:  Genuine L.A. fake breasts to fill out the authentic "I'm so L.A." T's.  Abs not included.

October 19, 2006

Humor from Hermès

At the French luxury goods company Hermes, counterfeits are no laughing matter.  Knockoffs of its iconic Birkin and Kelly bags are the stock in trade of both street vendors around the world and certain Upper East Side boutiques, despite the company's efforts to enforce its trademark and trade dress rights.  Ever wonder what happened to the "Jelly Kelly," the rubbery, translucent knockoff of the Birkin that appeared on fashionable shoulders from Milan to Southampton a few summers ago?  Ask the company's intelligent and efficient outside counsel, Joe Gioconda, who stemmed the tide.

Hermes Birkin with Jelly Kelly knockoff

Yesterday in Venice, however, Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas was in a lighter mood.  "Well, now you can say Hermes financed the restoration of a copy," he said, referring to the replicas of the city's four bronze horses usually stabled atop the Basilica di San Marco.  The originals were moved inside in 1982 to avoid further damage from pollution, but apparently even copies need a facelift now and then. 

New Hermes boutique in Venice


October 18, 2006

Knockoff News 36

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And if you need a counterfeit coffee break, drop by IPKat for the latest legal "brew"haha:

October 17, 2006

Boing Boing Splat

Heather Ross for Munki Munki - Pool PartyToday BoingBoing unleashed a screed against Reprodepot, an online store offering a particular printed fabric under what was essentially a limited license.  This turned into a general rant about intellectual property, with accusations ranging from an analogy to feudalism to the oppression of physical laborers.  And all without being able to spell “copyright.”  (Or was the heading “Coprygihted fabric” deliberate?)

Now while screeds are not particularly Counterfeit Chic’s style, the internet is certainly a medium that encourages hasty statements.  This is fine – except when portions of them are substantially incorrect or misleading.

So just to clarify, now that the dust appears to have settled:

Fabric designs are subject to copyright under U.S. law.  This was not always the case; however, in the mid-twentieth century courts quietly decided that printing on paper and printing on fabric were legally indistinguishable, and thus allowed original fabric patterns (printed or woven) to become part of the domain of copyright.  In addition, some original fabric patterns qualify for design patents.

The copyrightability of fabric designs, however, has little to do the legal legitimacy of Reprodepot’s statement regarding Heather Ross’s “Pool Party” design for Munki Munki, which was apparently as follows:

Please note: This fabric can be purchased for personal sewing projects only. This print cannot be used for items made for resale.

While statements like this license are often used in conjunction with the sale of, among other things, software to secure certain rights to the seller, these rights are separate from the intellectual property rights associated with the goods.  In other words, a license is a private contractual agreement, not a property right granted by the government.  And private parties can place a wide range of restrictions on many types of property at the time of sale – e.g. “You can buy my house, but only if you agree to keep it painted pink.”  If the buyer chooses to accept the restrictions, fine; if not, the buyer is free to look elsewhere.

The use of licenses to create additional restrictions on intellectual properties (again, think software) has drawn a great deal of fire over the past decade, which is probably why BoingBoing reacted so strongly to this one.  A limitation placed on the sale of fabric, is hardly evidence of the great evils of the intellectual property system. 

In fact, it turns out that Reprodepot had a specific reason for the limitation:

We had added that disclaimer for that particular item years ago because the person who designed it is a friend of ours and she had a business manufacturing children's clothes using this fabric (among others) that she had personally designed. We are selling the overruns from that business.

Years ago, we had had a problem with a few people making children's clothing with her fabric, and selling them on Ebay while using her company's name which was hurting her business. The text was posted specifically as a deterrent to those people.

As a result of the BoingBoing post, however, Reprodepot now believes that its statement was unenforceable and has reworded it as a request.  That’s fine if it better reflects the seller’s intent, but the statement actually was enforceable as a legal matter (if not as a practical one).

And one other thing.  BoingBoing’s post claims that “selling textiles has been around for millennia” and seems to blame creeping IP protections for any sort of limitation on their marketability.  However, sumptuary laws (governing the consumption of luxury goods, including clothing and textiles) have also been around for millennia, so the “good old days” before IP weren’t quite what the post would seem to imply.

All of which leads to a caveat:  Many of us have formed our opinion of the IP system – and property rules in general – by reference to new digital media and to the aggressive enforcement practices of certain IP owners.  But just because we object to certain expansions or uses of IP doesn’t mean the entire concept of allowing creators to own their own work is evil.  In fact, open source licenses are based on the idea that authors own their work, and may choose to release it into the public domain subject to restrictions of their choice (including noncommercial use, the type of restriction originally placed on the fabric for sale here).  In industries where there is healthy competition, if you don’t like the restrictions placed on one thing, you can always buy another.  Or create your own.

October 16, 2006

More to the Story?

Was Wal-Mart's manager of luxury goods for its Sam's Club chain, Dee Breazeale, dismissed as a result of the allegations that some of the retailer's "always low prices" were slapped on fakes masquerading as Fendi?

Or did it have something to do with the fact that Wal-Mart had named Dee to serve on the advisory council to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, provoking criticism from conservative consumers?

Presumably there's a great deal more to the story than has been reported thus far, but Wal-Mart should take note that neither cheating customers nor engaging in employment discrimination makes good (fashion) sense.

October 15, 2006

Soft Soaped

Amid debates over too-skinny models and over-styled celebrities, Dove soap's ad "Campaign for Real Beauty" attempts to differentiate itself by appealing to everyday beauties -- i.e. the rest of us.

First there were the ordinary size and shape models on billboards.  Now, Dove is pulling back the curtain on the artifice of the beauty industry with a short video that shows an average woman transformed into an ad via makeup artists, hair stylists, and Photoshop.  (In other words, this is the type of preparation and retouching that Counterfeit Chic discussed in March come to life.)  Here are before and after shots from the Dove video (HT:  BoingBoing):

Dove's ultimate goal, of course, is to sell more soap.  But is the objective of its "self-esteem fund" to make women and girls appreciate themselves more without excessive dieting and primping -- or simply to lower expectations for soap, which won't work any great transformations?  Perhaps both.

Realistically, though, when have humans ever settled for mere "natural" beauty?  Think back to Cleopatra's kohl-lined eyes, or even earlier to the 100,000-year-old shell beads that some scientists have hailed as the earliest evidence of symbolic thought.  Traces of ochre, an iron oxide pigment, are still evident on some prehistoric beads -- possibly makeup rubbed off of the skin of the person who wore them.  In the words of Professor Clive Gamble, "It's all about identity -- about changing the way you look.  I'm sure that clothing came along in a big way at the same time.  And then there's all that ochre.  These people were interested in changing their colour." 

A little self-esteem, and a simple soap-and-water toilette, are a relaxed corrective to the Photoshoped fakery of glossy magazines.  But if we've been primping for 100,000 years, we're not likely to stop on Dove's video say-so.  Indeed, our elaborate visual tricks may be as authentically human as our own skin. 

October 13, 2006

Parodying Prada

All clothing is expressive; printed T-shirts just make their points that much more explicitly.

In an elegant photo posted on Flickr, complete with dark self-reflection, mgonamission captures a parody of the Prada label.  The message?  "Frada:  Where high fashion meets low finance." 

For additional logo parodies, and an anti-consumerist manifesto, see Mark of the Beast (courtesy of my Fordham law student Kevin Bodenheimer). 

Core Differences

Is the new Apple Computer flagship on 5th Avenue in New York a knockoff of the Ka'ba in Mecca?  And should Muslims be offended by the resemblance? 

Claims of cultural misappropriation are difficult enough to analyze when the subject matter in question -- dress, dance, cuisine, music, traditional medicine, architechture, etc. -- has clearly been copied.  But a cube?  Even a freestanding cube in the middle of a plaza?  Even when another freestanding cube in the middle of another plaza is an iconic image to much of the world's population?  Tough call. 

But "Apple Mecca" or not, I think I may stick with Windows shopping until the matter is resolved.

Hat tip:  Trexfiles

October 12, 2006

Status, Style, or Something Else?

It began with the now-complete transformation of secondhand clothes into "unique vintage looks." Then there was Vogue's celebration of "dresses by anonymous" last year.  This morning, the Boston Globe offered an article on "stealth wealth."  In short, reports indicate a steady decline of overexposed, easily recognizable designs and head-to-toe logos, at least among certain fashion insiders. 

But is this search for the nouveau niche just another form of status seeking, now that heavyweight luxury brands (real or fake) are available on the internet 24/7?  Or are fashion-conscious consumers actually taking the opportunity to engage in sartorial self-expression?  Counterfeit Chic suspects (and applauds) the latter -- label-lusting copycats may achieve a certain status, but rarely will they display individual style.  And surely as complex a human behavior as wearing clothes can't be reduced to a single motive. 

So, who are you wearing?

October 11, 2006

Curated Counterfeits

Counterfeit Chic has previously discussed the reluctance of most museums to display forgeries, but the Museum of Counterfeit Goods is a notable exception to the rule.  This permanent collection, located at the Bangkok office of the Tilleke & Gibbins law firm, displays not only a range of fashion items but also food products, electronics, toiletries, pharmaceuticals, and even automobile parts alongside the fake versions.  Open by appointment -- and no, there's no gift shop. 


October 10, 2006

Knockoff News 35

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

October 09, 2006

Genius Steals

There is no more overused word in current fashionspeak than "genius," particularly in adjectival form -- as in, "The new Louis Vuitton collection by Marc Jacobs is so genius!" 

But is it true that "talent borrows, genius steals"? 

The leadoff accessories on LV's Paris runway yesterday were cheap plastic tote bags of the variety sold on the street around the globe, but marked with a Louis Vuitton travel stamp.  In other words, this was Marc inspired by streetwear, as he has been throughout his career.  Given the rate at which expensive LV bags are copied, it's an amusing challenge to turn the tables.

But hasn't the fashion flock seen this particular visual joke before?  Recall last February, when Jack Spade introduced a wry commentary on knockoffs in the form of a "Chinatown Collection" -- the exact same cheap plastic tote bags, with personalized monograms (like the stylish "CC" for "Counterfeit Chic," below) and a Jack Spade label.   

So has LV knocked off Jack Spade's ongoing parody of knockoffs?  And would that make Marc Jacobs a genius, a thief, or both?

October 08, 2006

Ensuring the Goods are GenuINA

The world's largest resale forum, eBay, is taking heat for providing an online outlet for counterfeit goods.  Thus far, the website's response is its VeRO program, which allows trademark owners to request the removal of infringing listings from the site.  But how do brick-and-mortar store make sure that their secondhand treasures are not trash? 

I recently stopped in at the newest branch of a high-end New York City consignment shop, INA, and asked the eponymous owner herself how she screens for fakes.  The answer?  Very carefully.  INA is perhaps best known as both the source of many of celebrity stylist Patricia Field's choices for Sex and the City and the host of a massive sale of much of the characters' wardrobe after the show ended.  With such a fashion-conscious clientele, INA has quite a reputation to uphold.

On the day I stopped by, one of the employees, Khadijah, had just been uptown to Hermes to have a handbag athenticated, and she periodically makes similar trips to places like Louis Vuitton and Gucci -- that is, if  the merchandise even passes INA's initial screening.  After 15 years in the resale business, not much gets by the INA staff.  In the unlikely event of a faux pas, INA waives its usual no-returns policy and offers a full refund, even if the problem is discovered months later and the consignor has already been paid.  The prices aren't rock-bottom, but INA intends to ensure that you get what you pay for. 

Different consignment and resale shops have different policies with respect to suspect merchandise.  At the most exclusive vintage venues, however, the policy is not caveat emptor but caveat venditor

October 07, 2006

Passing the Smell Test

While Dutch and French courts have flirted with the idea of copyrighting fragrances (see here and here), England is having none of it.  In a decision handed down Wednesday, a London court confirmed, "It is common ground that it is not an infringement of copyright in the United Kingdom to manufacture a perfume that mimics the smell of a successful fragrance."  (A scent can in theory, however, be protected as a trademark under U.K. law.)

Cosmetics giant L'Oreal nevertheless succeeded in some if its trademark infringement claims on the basis of the smell-alikes' packaging and use of the plaintiffs' trademarks to compare the original and knockoff products.  Bellure NV, the first named defendant in the case, informed the court that it has ceased trading after losing similar cases elsewhere. 

Olfactory creativity, it seems, is best protected by its visual and verbal avatars.

October 05, 2006

Custom Copies

Among fashionable city dwellers and world travelers, there persists a tale of a semi-hidden guild of tailors and seamstresses capable of producing made-to-measure knockoffs for a song.  Just bring along your favorite garment or even a magazine clipping, stand still for a few measurements, and the deal is done.  The identities of such talented needleworkers, often located in Hong Kong or one of many urban Chinatowns, are passed sotto voce among friends and colleagues intent on limiting access to their treasures. 

Are these copies legal?  Yes -- at least in the U.S.  Just as design pirates can mass-produce cheap copies of designer gowns, custom tailors can create perfectly fitted, high quality versions for individual customers.  Are designers as concerned about single copies as they are about fast-fashion fakes?  Presumably not -- the market for custom tailoring is small, and only a small percentage of it involves direct copying as opposed to original designs or adaptations.  Moreover, relatively few people have access to made-to-measure tailors.

Until now.  Once again, modern technology in the form of the internet has changed the rules of the game.  From the marvelous Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator comes word of a new eBay shop, TopRunway, offering to make copies of Roland Mouret's blockbuster Galaxy dress and similar styles.  The listings offer a choice of fabric swatches and detailed instructions for taking your own measurements, and promises delivery worldwide within 10-19 days.  The prices?  Hovering around U.S. $50 for a dress.  The location?  "Asia, China."

In Kathleen's words, "'Borrowing influences and concepts is one thing.  This is another."  As she also noted, however, the only legal offense (again, under U.S. law) is the use of a runway photo from Getty Images.  The clever copyist didn't even use the Roland Mouret name in advertising the goods, thus avoiding a potential trademark claim -- although the description of the dress as a "Galaxy" might raise a question. 

It appears that in the realm of knockoffs, we've entered the era of mass-produced made-to-measure. 

October 03, 2006

Classic Kicked

In 1917, the company founded by Marquis M. Converse developed the first basketball performance shoe.  The following year, Charles "Chuck" Taylor slipped on pair, and shortly thereafter the player endorsement was born.  Although Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars are now available in an almost unlimited number of colors and styles -- you can even design your own -- the black and white originals are iconic:

Proof that these kicks are a classic?  They're still being copied.  Check out the "Canverse New Star," pictured below in a photo sent by my Fordham law student William Panlilio and taken by one of his former students in the Philippines.  Many thanks to both of you!

October 02, 2006

Knockoff News 34

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And joining this week's reports of anti-counterfeiting enforcement efforts is a scene from last year's animated film Robots.  In the six-second clip, aspiring inventor Rodney Copperbottom (given voice by Ewan McGregor) heads off to the big city, only to be greeted by a series of hucksters.  In this case, however, the counterfeit merchandise offers a public service message of its own:


40,000 Shoes

Some designer shoes last for a season, others become part of fashion history. 

Visitors to Firenze will soon be able to visit the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, newly renovated and reopening on December 1.  The collection includes not only enough of the master's shoe designs to satisfy even the most ardent footwear enthusiast, but also sketches, photographs, publications, and even patents.  As today's WWD reports:

"The [Ferragamo] family is very much aware of preserving the past," said Stefania Ricci, curator.  "Indeed, Fiamma set up the museum in 1995, but her father, Salvatore, was forward-looking in registering all of his trademarks, which was very unusual, and kept all his main models." 

Trademarks as a tool of historic preservation?  An unusual perspective, perhaps, but one well suited to a nation with a strong sense of its artistic heritage.  Speaking of which, the museum collection isn't just eye candy.  Ferragamo plans to offer a new, limited-edition collection of shoes and handbags based on its vintage designs -- called, most appropriately, the Heritage Collection. 

No word yet on whether the new editions will include Ferragamo's Invisible Sandal, originally created with a clear nylon thread upper and pictured below alongside Italian patent number 426001, October 17, 1947.  If necessity is the mother of invention, then even the local fishing tackle and bait shop can be a source of couture....