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Letters to February 21, 2009

The round-up of letters to the editor.

Judgment puts clothing trademarks at risk

Many fashion companies’ registered trademarks for clothing and promotional items are at risk following a judgment by the European Court.

Austrian knitwear brand Maselli Strickmoden had registered the trademark ‘Wellness’ for clothing and non-alcoholic drinks, which it gave away in a promotion.

Following an application to revoke its registration by a drinks manufacturer, Maselli Strickmoden claimed the Wellness drink promotion represented genuine use of its trademark.

The European Court disagreed. As a result, the trademark registration could be revoked.

This decision has two consequences. First, fashion companies which have registered trademarks for promotional items will be exposed to losing their trademark protection if they simply give away the promotional items.

This is because a third party may use the court’s decision to take advantage of a fashion company’s reputation to sell, for example, an Armani drink.

Second, streetwear companies may seek to use the decision in reverse. Promotional T-shirts are often given away by drinks brands.

Streetwear companies may decide to put on to the market garments with designs inspired by drinks brands which have given away, as opposed to sold, promotional T-shirts.

Stephen Sidkin, partner, Fox Williams, London

Sign up to store loyalty schemes

The number of store loyalty-card schemes in the UK has doubled in the past decade.

However, research from database marketing company GI Insight shows that fashion brands and retailers are the least well placed of all sectors to take advantage of such schemes and the benefits they yield in terms of building knowledge about customer bases and retaining custom.

The fashion retail sector has a high proportion of small chains, franchises and indies, possibly leading to the industry’s more fragmented approach to customer management and loyalty initiatives.

However, this should mean that a well-executed loyalty scheme offered in a less-crowded marketplace in which to stand out would give an organisation a more competitive advantage in the current difficult economic climate.

Andy Wood, managing director, GI Insight, Leicester

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