New lawsuit targets fashion IP

Glenn W. Peterson

Most people in California have been into a Target store before and may well know that the company sells a variety of clothing and shoe products. Some of these items are from name brands and some are knock-offs of major brands. The world of fashion replica products is a complex one apparently as can be seen in a recent lawsuit initiated against Target by the shoe designer and manufacturer Vans.

As reported by Vox, the lawsuit brought forth by Vans alleges that Target in conjunction with another company, Wild Fable, have deliberately leveraged known Vans shoes markings, patterns and skateboard culture references to profit by confusing consumers. Wild Fable is a shoe designer that has made a specific shoe sold at Target. The shoe has some similarities to one made by Vans that includes a mark trademarked by Vans in the late 1990s.

Fashion is generally aligned with manufacturing instead of creative works when it comes to intellectual property. In this arena, defending a market or specific look is much harder than doing so for a work of creative effort. Nonetheless, Vans is pushing hard to have Target cease production and sale of the shoe. They are also seeking damages and legal fees from Target. In addition, Vans has asked that Target cede profits received from the shoe to date.

This case of the Target shoe is an example of how defending a trademark or other intellectual property asset can at times be complex for parties on both sides of a dispute.