First in, best dressed

It’s no secret that fashion and brand labels go hand-in-hand. The leading fashion brands are all registered trade marks. But what can up-and-coming designers do to protect their label in their early years?

A classic principle in trade mark law is first in, best dressed. And it means just that. The first person to use or apply for a trade mark means that person has the best rights to that name or mark. With that principle in mind, fashion designers should first and foremost move to secure intellectual property rights in their own brand label as early as possible.

One of the best rights that a fashion designer can have, is to own the trade mark rights in their label. Trade marks are personal property that can be licensed, mortgaged and sold and controlling those rights is king. The relative cost of international trade mark protection in the early years, however, is expensive. But formative steps should be taken as this is where many mistakes are made. Simply securing a business name or a company name or a domain name is not enough.

The first step is to …