February 09, 2009

NY1's Fashion Week Preview

Fashion folk typically think thin -- meaning waistlines, not marketing budgets.  Starting Friday, however, editors, buyers, and other guests will be treated to a slimmer, trimmer version of New York Fashion Week, courtesy of the current economy.

Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing, as NY1's Jill Scott found when she interviewed designer Carmen Marc Valvo, IMG Fashion Week's Fern Mallis, and your favorite law prof.  Click the pic to view and/or read the story.  


Thanks, Jill!

November 17, 2008

Screen Scene

Who needs skin, skateboards, or automobile bumpers when you can express your identity -- or your brand obsession -- by decorating your laptop?  From stickers on the outside to onscreen wallpaper, the possibilities are endless.

Just to make the process easier, inju has invited you to "Pimp Your Mac!" with a series of desktop designs (6 Louis Vuitton and 1 Gucci) posted on Flickr.  And yes, PCs, this paradoxical combination of individuality and corporate conformity --along with its accompanying trademark and copyright violations -- works on any screen. 


In an amusing bit of intellectual property irony, inju has distributed these images under a Creative Commons license.

November 04, 2008

Fake Bags or False Allegations?

Did paparazzi catch Karl Lagerfeld coveting counterfeits?

As of yesterday, seemed to think so -- but the entry is no longer searchable on either the blog or its original source, INF.  Did Lagerfeld's lawyers get involved, perhaps with allegations of defamation?  We can only speculate.  It's worth noting, however, that no identifiable counterfeits (Chanel or otherwise) appear in the suddenly scarce photo. 


September 04, 2008

Ambiguous Advertising


Because Verizon wants Fios to be associated with fakes?  Because Disney's not quite princess Giselle dreams of not exactly legal handbags and can be watched on the small screen via a not yet installed fiber optic system?  Note to advertising agency:  What were you thinking?

Thanks to trexfiles23 for posting on Flickr!

April 01, 2008

Introducing SCAFIDI, Ltd.

Please come and visit my new boutique, SCAFIDI, Ltd.! 

Over the years, many of you have kindly observed that I have more knowledge of fashion and style than the average law professor -- which may be damning with faint praise, but I'll take it as a compliment anyway. One shoe-loving lawyer and dear friend even suggested that I'd missed my calling as a fashion editor. 

Well, I've finally heeded your advice and decided to combine my love of law and passion for fashion in a single enterprise.  After the recent raid, there's space available on Canal Street -- and with the dollar going south, demand for cheap knockoffs of high quality, cutting-edge designer goods is certain to rise.  Yes, I've argued in favor of closing the loophole in U.S. law that allows design piracy -- but in the meantime, I'll be sailing the high seas of fashion with a bandana on my head and a parrot on my shoulder, plundering the best designs from famous fashion labels and struggling young designers alike. 

After all, as I explained to my financial partners, who better understands the peculiar legal distinctions between an illegal counterfeit and a legal knockoff, or protected trade dress and a vulnerable new innovation?  Or how to draft an airtight manufacturing agreement with a sweatshop owner while appearing to adhere to fair trade practices?  And as for those all-important "connections" in shipping and customs, I've been carrying around that vowel at the end of my family name forever (and hearing the usual comments) -- maybe it's time to put it to some use.

But all of that is just between us.  Today is the grand opening of Scafidi, Ltd.!  Come on down, have a drink, and do some shopping!  If you're lucky, I may just throw in some free counsel on the side.

Continue reading "Introducing SCAFIDI, Ltd." »

January 03, 2008

Parody Panties

BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow certainly found an interesting souvenir on his trip to Shanghai: 

But does calling the panties a parody make it so? 

Not necessarily.  Painting the word "fake" on a counterfeit handbag -- or a real one, for that matter -- can be construed as cultural commentary, given the prominence of the great fake debate.  Printing the word "parody" on Mickey Mouse panties doesn't seem to be commenting on much of anything, since discussion surrounding trademark infringement rarely involves cartoon undergarments.  Moreover, the target customer for girls' briefs in China (presumably not Mr. Doctorow, but one never knows) may not read much English or understand the word "parody" -- but Mickey himself needs no translation.

Perhaps in another context the panties could be considered a commentary on the famous mouse's squeaky-clean image.  Then again, Disney seems to have no objection to slapping authorized versions of its characters' smiling visages on fans' bottoms.

At the end of the day, the Mickey knickers are just another twist on the disclaimer myth:  Hmmm, copying is illegal, but parodies that involve some copying are legal, so maybe if I label my copy a parody, I'll get away with least until Disney launches a retaliatory panty raid. 

Nice try.

Many thanks to Counterfeit Chic reader Rory Solomon for the tip!

November 04, 2007

Counterfeit Chic's 2nd-Favorite Oxymoron

Original Fake does it again -- this time with signature-X shoes that look as if they might be worn by its bizarre action figures. 

Is the consumer appeal "original" or "fake"?  Or perhaps both, in a strategy that calls to mind countercultural conformity?  Then again, maybe they're just cute slippers aiming for an edge. 

Many thanks to Ben Barren for posting the ad!

October 16, 2007

Fiddling while Rome Burns

Sacred image or flaming fake?  When Gregorz Lukasik photographed a bonfire lit during a Polish service on the second anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, he didn't expect to capture an image of the late pontiff himself.  Nevertheless, Lukasik's local bishop apparently believes that the firey silhouette is more than a coincidence, noting that JP II made many pilgrimages during his life -- and may still be at it. 

But should the faithful rush to download this image as a holy screensaver?  Ultimately, that's up to officials with higher authority -- and more facility in detecting telltale traces of Photoshop manipulation -- than Counterfeit Chic.  Even if the photo is unaltered, however, the human mind's tendency to pareidolia warrants caution.  One may not wish to nonchalantly eat a tortilla in which Jesus' face has appeared or accidentally burn a grilled cheese sandwich consecrated with an image of the Virgin Mary, but neither is every suggestive cloud formation a sign from above.

If the photo is real, does Lukasik stand to gain more tangible benefits than a blessing and 15 minutes of fame?  Well, 500 years ago there was a brisk business in alleged splinters of the True Cross and other holy relics -- and in 2004 that grilled cheese sandwich sold for USD $28,000 on eBay. 

While modern canon law absolutely forbids the sale of relics, a recent image probably wouldn't fall under the prohibition -- although c.1190, section 3 also places restrictions on the transfer of "images which are honored in some church with great reverence by the people."  The rule is limited, but commentary commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America further notes, "Authorities should be watchful lest relics or sacred images fall into the hands of those who do not appreciate them or who might even ridicule them." 

Point taken.  No ridicule here.  But if the photo really does depict a postmortem visit from JP II, why exactly is he burning? 

October 14, 2007

Channel Surfing

Poor Gabrielle.  She was literally born misspelled -- as "Chasnel" rather than "Chanel," in a hospice for the poor.  Apparently neither her mother nor the illiterate staff could spell her father's name, so the mayor took his best shot.  Over a century later, people are still struggling with her name...


...which is as good a reason as any for just using "Coco." 

Having lost one of the Fs in "Scaffidi" to an immigration error a couple of generations ago, I have to commend Mlle. Chanel for sticking to an accurate spelling, whatever the proper authorities might have thought.  From now on, I think I'll write "return to sender" on junk mail addressed to Scafaldi, Seafidi, Scafadi, Scafade....

And while I'm working through the stack on my desk, check out the Asian Garden Mall set from Sullyt64 for t-shirts from fellow orthographic victims "Versage" and "DNKY." 

September 13, 2007

Counterfeit Chic on Tyra

On September 14, Tyra Banks offers a televised guide to "How to Spot a Fake" -- with your favorite law prof as her trusted guide to legal issues and fake handbags. Check out the preview (yes, that's me with the false eyelashes and giant scissors), and then check the website for local air times.

In New York, it's on at cocktail hour (5pm) -- a good thing, since I'm just realizing that I agreed to appear on TV next to a fabulous former swimsuit model. Hopefully the camera will be kind with regard to exactly where it adds that 10 pounds.

UPDATE:  Did you catch all of Tyra's tips on how to spot a fake handbag?  If you need a quick review, continue reading below.  You can also click here to watch Tyra's and my discussion of fake handbags -- including a few pointers on international law that didn't make it to prime time. 

Continue reading "Counterfeit Chic on Tyra" »

August 17, 2007

Dyslexic New York

Donna Naran Kew York?

August 16, 2007

Copy This Label

Here's a label that hasn't been copied yet -- but it should be.  For the good of the American fashion industry.

From Lucky Puppy, via Oddee

August 06, 2007

Why civil law systems rock

I'm off to jury duty this morning--with none other than New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is also scheduled to do his civic duty today.  Let's hope for an intellectual property case!

In the meantime, check out this series of counterfeit fashion photos from the marvelous Petit Musee des Marques, one sample of which is below.  A couple will look familiar to Counterfeit Chic readers, but there's lots of twisted new creativity out there!

June 28, 2007

Awwwrest ME?

Little Mona may be criminally cute, but her artistically inclined mother, Mieko Bystedt, is the one who knitted the "Chanel" bag below.  Judging from the wish list on Mieko's blog -- and authentic details like the hot pink lining -- she's a fan of the real thing as well.


But will the branded baby become a career counterfeiter, a Chanel connoisseur, or a victim of consumer ennui?  Time will tell....

UPDATE:  Mieko wishes to assure all readers that she is "fully aware of the problem of counterfeiting in the world today" and that all of the designer items she personally owns are authentic.  The "Chanel" bag was knitted for her daughter's personal use only.

June 11, 2007

Another Look at the Initial Issue

Speaking of the YSL trademark (see yesterday's post), what about the stylish logo of the band Yeasayer, sent courtesy of Professor Rebecca Tushnet


Do we have an infringement issue here?  Likelihood of confusion might be argued, although the band's mark is more elaborate, and it isn't necessarily hawking clothing, jewelry, perfume, accessories, etc. (yet), or targeting the same customer as YSL.  The YSL mark, however, may very well qualify as famous, obviating the issue of categories of goods or services and leading to a claim of dilution

Still, Yeasayer's YSR may be sufficiently distinguishable enough from YSL to make naysayers of the legal doomsayers. 

June 08, 2007

Cross-Species Copycats

Has celebrity blogger Perez Hilton caught Victoria Beckham wearing a knockoff?

Reese and Posh

And does the the cute little b*tch have a rights of publicity claim?  (Well, no, in the case of either one -- but it's amusing to speculate.)

Many thanks to my fantastic Fordham law student -- make that graduate -- Brit Payne for the tip.  Who said studying for the bar wasn't fun? 

February 03, 2007

Canine Cops

A photo essay in today's WWD offers a behind-the-scenes look at final preparations for fashion week, including this furry team member:

What does it take to put together a collection?  A whole lot of inspiration and determination -- not to mention strong coffee, countless fittings and a few little dogs to scare away the copycats.

So that's it!  It turns out these puppies aren't just pretty faces (or cute accessories) after all.

Photos by John Aquino, Pasha Antonov, Talaya Centeno, Kyle Ericksen, Kristen Somody, and Zack Seckler.

November 21, 2006

Mind the Gep

Thanks to Flickr photographer Johann Espiritu.

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 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). 

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!

September 30, 2006

Semiotic Disturbance

What would Roland Barthes think of this?

Thanks to janoid for taking this photo in Turkey and posting it on Flickr.

August 27, 2006

Counterfeit Coffee Break 2

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  My office is set up, my syllabi and lecture notes are ready, I've double-checked to make sure that the bookstore ordered the right books, and I even know my class schedule (I think). 

All of which means that it's time for a counterfeit coffee break. 

From thoughtful reader Nicola Searle comes the Iranian "Star Box Coffee:"

In China, Starbucks actually won a trademark case against another imitator, the Shanghai Xingbake Coffee Shop:

Continue reading "Counterfeit Coffee Break 2" »

August 09, 2006

Turtles All the Way Down

The trends reproduced by H&M may sometimes veer into the category of knockoffs, but it appears that the Swedish "fast fashion" company has spawned a Korean knockoff of its own:

Thanks to Kian Esquire for posting this picture on Flickr!

August 02, 2006

Baked Fakes

Satisfy your sweet tooth and your IP obsession with this fantastic photoset from "IP Hokusai" on Flickr  -- and then head over to his clever and intelligent blog.  An Italian blogger writing in English under the pseudonym of a Japanese artist?  Love it!  And I think that I have a request for my next birthday.

Grazie per gli immagini!

July 25, 2006

Supersize It

Is Louis Vuitton going the pop-up store route in Korea, or are counterfeit retailers wrapping themselves in logo print?  (Hint:  If you sign in to Flickr and enlarge the photo, it appears that "Monogram" also sells Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana....)

Thanks to Superlocal for the photo!  (And is that a "Burberry" umbrella in the left foreground?)

May 01, 2006

Counterfeit Misprint

Judgmentalist posted the photo below on Flickr.  Take a close look at the label of the pair of jeans on top of the stack.

Apparently a Thai denim counterfeiter stored a number of different logos in the computer, ready to print labels on demand -- but there was a bug in the software.  Thus instead of printing a counterfeit label, a line of incorrect code appeared on the tag.

And judging from the comments on Flickr, the jeans with the broken code label are more in demand than the faux/real thing!

December 18, 2005

Naughty or Nice?

Last week's Wall Street Journal reports that for international travelers, the latest trend in holiday giving is superior qualilty "bootleg bounty" purchased overseas, sometimes even in lookalike packaging.  According to the WSJ,

It may have once been considered tacky to give a knockoff purse or wallet as a gift.  Not any longer.  This holiday season, more gift givers are tapping a new source for presents:  Chinese counterfeit goods.

For holiday shoppers unwilling to tangle with U.S. Customs, New York seems to be an equally popular destination this weekend.  Not only is Chinatown buzzing with the usual muttered offers of "Vuitton" and "Prada" -- openly displayed, behind fake walls, or past locked basement doors -- but pushcart vendors have set up shop near some of Manhattan's priciest real estate.  Not happy with the prices at Saks, Barneys, or Bergdorf?  Just step outside.

Outside Bergdorf December 2005

BTW, the traffic cones aren't VIP parking.  They were placed by the traffic cop just outside the edge of the photo.  (More pics available on Flickr.  And post your own!)

The savvy traveler quoted in the WSJ claims that his family "didn't mind one bit" that the goods were fake.  Hmmm.  Tune in here for future reflections on the messages embedded in buying -- or giving -- counterfeits. 

In the meantime, attention shoppers:  if I'm untying the white ribbon around a certain little blue box in my stocking, it had better be the real deal.