Designers: is your name your own in China?

It was interesting to read in the Financial Times Material World blog about fashion designer Phillip Lim dealing with the problem of someone in China having already registered his name as a trade mark. His solution was to invent a new brand, thus side-stepping the issue. Shoosmiths’ intellectual property specialists have been involved in this sort of problem for the past five years or so, helping designers who find themselves in this predicament.

The problem stems from the moment the designer becomes ‘known’, which can result from sponsorship, collaboration with a well-known retailer or brand, or someone famous wearing their designs. Once the designer’s name hits the press or — more likely nowadays — the internet, it is ripe for acquisition by someone else applying to register that name as a trade mark. This is rife in China…

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