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Is Using Another Brand’s Logo Legal?

Designer logos have been considered a status symbol around the world. From the Chanel double C’s to the Nike “swoosh” to Coca-Cola’s iconic typography, people around the world are able to identify and recognize them. Many brands are moving toward a more minimalistic design for their products. For example, in 2013, Louis Vuitton decided to pull back on its use of its iconic LV accessories, and produce more logo-less purses, wallets, and more. On the other hand, some major fashion labels are flaunting logos that are not their own.

The fashion world is calling this the “Jeremy Scott effect”. In the fall 2014 Moschino show, the designer doned his models in McDonald’s and Spongebob motifs. He continued the trend with a Barbie inspired collection that was almost exclusively pink and featured the Mattel Barbie logo. Following the financial success of his logo-infused line, businesses have been rushing to get on board this logo-infused trend.

This spring fashion season anticipates an influx of logo clothing that is not owned by that designer. Stores like Opening Ceremony used the old Kodak brand, Bobby Abley debuted his “The Jungle Book” styles at NYFW, and Joyrich is using the Coca-Cola logo in its products.

How is this legal?

According to Christopher Sprigman, an NYU School of Law professor, if a brand wants to use the logo of another brand, he/she must negotiate a licensing deal. Many of these deals entail a financial transaction, which is not uncommon in the fashion world. The fashion industry is notorious for being for-profit, and negotiating monetary deals.

The main issue with using logos that are not from a designer is the issue of possibly misleading consumers into thinking a company is endorsing the designer. This can be very tricky with designers who use multiple logos on their clothing. Seeking  legal advice about the design of the clothing and the logos used can help to prevent any type of trademark infringement.

Using outside logos has been growing in popularity. In the near future, we can expect to see more fashion lawyers negotiating deals being created between designers and brands.

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