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Law of the Lipstick Jungle

It's not a good season for powerful, high-achieving women.  The buzz has gone out of Hillary Clinton's campaign, leaving one to wonder how the first serious shot at nominating a woman for President could seem, well, boring.  And the two TV shows vying to be worthy successors to Sex and the City, but with elite career women as the main characters -- Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle -- seem to play the crying game as often as Hillary in New Hampshire.  And New Haven.  And....

Behind the veil of televised tears, however, there is one plotline of potential interest to Counterfeit Chic.  In the original Lipstick Jungle novel, a flashback shows the fashion designer character facing down a copyist early in her career before going on to fame and fortune.  In the TV version, the designer, Victory Ford, has all but lost her business -- and, as a final parting gesture, her assistant rips pages from Victory's sketchbook and presents them as her own at a new job. 


As of episode 2, the designer hadn't yet discovered her assistant's treachery.  When she does, however, will she have any legal recourse?   

Since the designer told the assistant to "take anything you want," it might be difficult to argue that the pages were stolen.  And since the assistant didn't trace the designs but simply took the pages, there's no copyright issue.  As for the assistant presenting the sketches as part of her own portfolio, and telling her new employer that she'd actually been the design force behind the Victory Ford label, she could lose her job for essentially lying about her resume -- but that's up to her new boss, not her old one.  If the designs were actually produced by the new employer and were so recognizable that the public assumed they were Victory's work, the designer could have a trade dress argument -- but it would be an extremely weak one.  How could the public be confused as to the origin of specific designs it had never seen? 

In some non-US legal systems, however, Victory Ford could call on her lawyers to take action against her former assistant.  As the artist responsible for the sketches, Victory would be entitled to have them attributed to her and not to someone else.  Moreover, turning the sketches into clothing -- making 3D copies -- would be actionable as well, since fashion designs are subject to protection in the EU, Japan, India, etc. 

Presumably the story will be continued in future episodes of Lipstick Jungle.  Whether Victory is ultimately victorious or not, however, she's certain to cry.