January 30, 2007
Levi's Getting Frayed Around Edges Over Trademark Protection
This week the New York Times noted that Levi's is one of the 10 most litigious companies in the country, partially because of its zealous protection of its famous pocket design — as well as every other trademark design feature it owns.
Susan Scafidi points out that while fashions themselves are not protected under US law, trademarks like pocket stitching and label design certainly are and those who blatantly copy Levi’s trademarks may have "bitten off more than they can chew."
Many bloggers are siding with Levi’s, who is chasing fashion houses that create jeans which feature a "patch with two creatures pulling a pair of jeans apart" as well as label placement on the back pocket. On top of this, Levi's has been after Japanese companies who create exclusive "repro" knock-offs of their earliest (trademarked) designs for resale.
There can be no doubt that part of every brand strategy is protecting the recognizable trademarks associated with it — that includes all of the above.
As the Times points out, Levi's has initiated over 100 trademark lawsuits since 2001, more than General Motors, Walt Disney or Nike. In my opinion, this is not surprising, as Levi’s trademarks are so easily copied, both purposely and inadvertently.
Part of brand naming is establishing everything that is unique about the brand and protecting it from those "inspired" by the features of the classic jeans to out and out criminals like the ones Google has to contend with. Levi’s is simply practicing due diligence.
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