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Magnolia case demonstrates importance of protecting logos

12-04-2016

Infringement in the fashion sector can cause major issues for businesses, with confusion between brands resulting in loss of revenue. Businesses need to keep their eyes open for infringers, and take action where necessary. A new case brought by fashion brand I Love Jewellery highlights the importance of protecting your brand logos.

Multimillion dollar jewellery business I Love Jewellery is suing Reese Witherspoon’s fashion and lifestyle company Draper James for USD5 million on the grounds of copyright and trademark infringement. In particular, it is accusing Draper James of copying a design used in the logo for the I Love Jewellery brand, and seeking a cut of Draper James’ profits. The design in question is a flower shape with initials in the centre (see pictures below)

 Draper James     I Love Jewellery

Jordann Weingartner, owner of I Love Jewellery, told Page Six: She [Witherspoon] literally stole my magnolia… I drew the design for my Magnolia Collection back in 2008. The flower isn’t a traditional magnolia flower, it is my artistic take on a magnolia… My design actually looks nothing like a magnolia, and Draper James not only took the design, but also decided to call it a magnolia.” Weingartner also claims that Witherspoon was aware of the design being used by Draper James because her publicist had sent a necklace featuring the design to the actress previously.

Who owns the magnolia?
As in other trademark infringement cases, I Love Jewellery’s success will be fairly dependent on how well it has protected and enforced its brand logo.

In order to be successful in this case, I Love Jewellery will need to establish that it holds a valid trademark for its logo, and that Draper James has used the same or similar mark in commerce, in connection with the sale or advertising of goods, without consent,” explains Novagraaf’s Claire Jones. “In addition, it will need to show that that the use by Draper James is likely to cause confusion to consumers.”

Strategies to protect brand logos
This case demonstrates the importance of protecting brand logos, and of acting quickly once infringement is identified. In order to protect your brand against infringement, here are some important steps to follow:

  • Register key brand and product names and logos as trademarks, and innovative design features as design rights, so that you can seek legal redress for any unauthorised use of those trademark or design rights (e.g. for the manufacture, distribution and sale of trademarked goods);
  • Review your key brand and product names and logos regularly so your IP portfolio reflects their use in commerce;
  • Opt into a watching service that monitors and assesses all new trademark registrations at the relevant national and international trademark registers to identify potential conflicts with your trademarks;
  • Take enforcement action where appropriate

For further information on protecting your brand click here, or speak to your Novagraaf consultant.