Young designers in need of legal advice to protect their IP against cheap replicas


As London Fashion Week opens (Friday 20th Feb) and the city becomes centre stage of the world’s most innovative brands, leading law firm Mishcon de Reya is warning that Britain’s young designers are at greater risk than ever of losing rights to both their name and creations. 

Sally Britton, advisor to some of the world’s leading designers, believes that the biggest threat comes from China as the online revolution continues to blur lines between rights and wrongs of infringement. Whilst designers will be frantically working on final touches to their designs, she is warning that lack of protection can lead to:  

  1. threats from trade mark trolls in emerging markets in particular bad faith trade mark registrations in China
  2. Intellectual property theft – increased availability of counterfeit goods

Sally warns that the growth of online retail and an increasingly fast supply chain mean that any designer showcasing may discover third parties selling their designs before the designer has had the opportunity to go into production themselves and/or be blocked from selling into territories where their name owned by someone else. 

Sally is advising designers to create a separate brand identity to protect against infringing their names and to file their trade mark as broadly as possible including in local languages. She believes that designers need to be taught about legislation and protection early on so they are fully aware of key commercial imperatives and risks they may face. 

Last year, Mishcon announced a Designer Mentoring Programme providing pro bono advice and mentoring to ten emerging designers showcasing during the British Fashion Council's events which include London Fashion Week and London Collections: Men.