Can Chanel Sue For Stealing Its Style of Doing Business?

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Happy Couture Week, my fellow fashion law-istas! On Tuesday while we were just dodging the Snowmageddon here in New York, Karl Lagerfeld threw a garden party in Paris for Chanel’s Spring ’15 Haute Couture show. Things haven’t been all sunshine and daisies, however, over at the Haus of Chanel as it filed a counterfeiting suit just last month.

Chanel is suing online e-tailer Shop Jeen not only for copying its goods but also its way of doing business. Shop Jeen produced imitation Chanel iPhone cases and allegedly marketed them in the same way as the couturier. According to The Fashion Law, Chanel claims that Shop Jeen’s actions have cost it irreparable damage and “the Defendants have been unjustly enriched.” Chanel is demanding $2 million “for each counterfeit trademark used and product sold,” in addition to attorney and investigative fees.

As you know, I’m all for designers defending their own intellectual property, but I’m not so sure about their ability to sue someone for stealing the way they do business. If a product is already a knockoff, wouldn’t it come with the territory that it is advertised in the same way as the original? If it were any other company but Chanel this might not really fly as two separate charges, but I’m sure the kaiser Karl Lagerfeld will be able to get away with it.

It’s cases like this that make fashion law so much trickier than most other intellectual property and trademark lawsuits. The only thing fashion attorneys have to go off of is prior cases. Then again, this is the Haus of Chanel we’re talking about here. Lots of clothing and accessories can be seen as inspired by or imitating the brand that basically defines classic. Yet as far as I can tell, it looks like Chanel’s got this lawsuit in the (2.55 chain strap) bag.

Katherine Fabian
Katherine Fabian is a recent graduate of Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center. She is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who hopes to one day practice fashion law and defend the intellectual property rights of designers. Contact Katherine at



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