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Brand protection advice for the clothing industry: What, why, where, when & how to register a trademark

Fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world. Global market value of the clothing industry was set to $1.7 trillion dollars in 2021 and expected to enjoy a 6.1% growth to $1.95 billion dollars in 2022-2023 according to two different research reports by Euromonitor and McKinsey [1]. This article highlights why trademark registration is of a crucial importance for fashion retailers.

By

Igor Demcak

WHAT is Trademark Protection?

If you are about to launch your fashion label or already have an established fashion business, you probably have picked a name and started creating a logo for your brand. Registering this name and logo as a trademark is a very important step in protecting your business’ identity.

Trademark is defined as a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises (World Intellectual Property Office). The main purpose of trademark registration is to protect distinctive brands from infringement attempts, ensuring that their image and reputation gained from the customers remains associated solely with the original brand. As a result, trademarks are well suited for brands, product name, product logo or even a slogan, providing that these elements are used to distinguish a company’s offering from that of the competitors.

You can register a name or a logo separately, but the highest level of protection is achieved by making two trademark applications, for both creative assets of your brand. This approach provides an explicit protection for key branding elements, covering edge cases and ensuring that the uniqueness of the brand is strongly protected.

WHY does Fashion Brand need a Trademark?

Trademark registration plays a vital role in the development of the fashion sector of goods and services, as the success of fashion companies heavily relies on the distinctiveness of their brand, which the trademark seeks to protect.

By selling your clothing under an established trademark you build reputation of your brand by means of customers associating your name with a particular quality, style, and experience. When you have a strong trademark for a clothing brand, you can build brand loyalty with customers who recognize your brand’s consistent value and quality.

Having a trademark also minimizes the risk of others stealing or borrowing from your brand. Trademark registration acts as a deterrent for copycats and it is the ® symbol that communicates a strong signal that the company is willing to protect its intellectual property. Moreover, the owner of a registered trademark has the right to issue “cease and desist” letters, discouraging these copycat attempts even further.

What's more, the greater number of trademark registrations you have, the stronger your intellectual property portfolio. For a fashion startup, holding multiple trademarks can attract more investors and boost your company's value.

WHERE should Fashion Brand register a Trademark?

In order to have an optimal trademark strategy, you need to know key markets for your type of business. The United States and China are currently the largest economies and the largest apparel retail markets in the world. Overview of key five markets size in 2021 in USD million for the clothing industry in which you may wish to consider registering a trademark:

Country

Market value ($USD million)

China

427,153.9

USA

364,136.6

United Kingdom

70,734.8

Germany

69,957.3

Japan

65,764.0

Source: Euromonitor International, a market research provider

WHEN is the best time to register a Trademark?

The optimal trademark strategy really depends on each client’s propensity to risk aversion, availability of financial resources, and business ambitions. There are numerous clothing businesses that want nothing less than global success and in such a case, it is advisable to lay the groundwork by registering a trademark in the key markets, including China, the US, and the EU. The scope of protection can be gradually increased over time as global success becomes more and more apparent. 

At the same time, smaller clothing businesses may prefer a more cautious and money-saving approach, limiting the scope of brand protection to one or two markets from the start. In such a case, we would strongly recommend looking into the domestic market (wherever that may be) and potentially the US to gain broader protection.

HOW to register a Trademark for a Fashion Brand?

Trademarking a clothing brand can be a complicated process, so in this section, we would like to offer a quick overview of the steps to filing a trademark for clothing.

The first and crucial step is to choose a distinct name or logo that you would like to trademark. From our experience, emerging businesses tend to focus solely on the availability of hosting domains when considering various creative options. Our recommendation is to include an additional check in the form of assessing the risk associated with trademark registration, allowing you to avoid future difficulties and rebranding once the business idea takes off.

Second, your name and/or logo need to be established and “in use” at the time that you apply for a registered trademark. Before applying for a trademark, a company must use it in commerce in connection with specific products and services. Once the trademark is being used in commerce, the company can then file a statement of use, that will specify how the trademark is now being used in the marketplace.

Once you’ve designed and started using your name/logo, you can start the official registration process. The registration process has its intricacies that you can read about in our article Common Mistakes to Avoid When Registering a Trademark, but as a summary, we advise to:

·         Consult with a professional trademark attorney

·         Do a prior search for any conflicting trademarks

·         Choose appropriate classes of goods and services

Thinking about taking your clothing brand to the next step? We are here to help. Simply start with our free lawyer’s check which allows us to better understand the specific needs of your business and provide tailored recommendations. Need more clarification before you are ready to proceed? Our dedicated support is ready to answer any questions. Simply schedule a free consultation with us and our representative will gladly walk you through the process, addressing any concerns you might have!

[1] https://fashionunited.com/global-fashion-industry-statistics

Igor Demcak
Igor Demcak
Trademark Attorney

Founder & CEO of Trama

7 year experience in IP protection

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