Have you seen Thursday Friday’s canvas bag printed with a Birkin? It is the “Together Tote,” which was the subject of a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit by Hermès.
After infringing—err, pretending to balk at the high cost of Hermès Birkins via a social comment on consumerism, Thursday Friday released its “Braids” tote. The designer inspired handbag company features images of Miu Miu’s “Hobo” bag in its Miu Miu line. Now, the company released its “Diamonds” collection—totes bearing images of what seem to be copied Chanel handbags. The “Diamond” tote is almost identical to the Chanel 2.55 Reissue, only missing Chanel’s trademark interlocking Cs.
It seems Thursday Friday is following the old adage of punching the biggest bully in the schoolyard to get the respect and fear of others. Then again, whether you plan to make money by piggybacking off of the popularity of another brand or making a social critique, your subject should be well known.
Fashion law lessons learned from Hermès lawsuit
In its defense to a fashion law based court action by Hermès, Thursday Friday claimed it was not guilty of trademark infringement because the Together Totes did not contain Hermès branding. Apparently unbeknownst to Thursday Friday, the Hermès Birkin’s rectangular clasp closure is subject of a registered trademark. A design with secondary meaning* gets stronger protection and famous trademarks will likely have such a presence. Consequently, Thursday Friday learned to take on a less eminent handbag.
Miu Miu’s “Hobo” is recognizable but lacks the prominent history of a Birkin. The Hobo’s less prominent status means that Miu Miu would have more trouble proving the “secondary meaning” that Hermès could have more easily proven via its iconic Birkin and related trademark. Thus fewer theories of recovery would be available to Miu Miu. As I previously explained, Hermès settled its fashion law case. And to date, Miu Miu has not filed suit over the Braids collection.
Why Thursday Friday copied Chanel handbags
Thursday Friday chose images of the reissued version of Chanel’s 2.55 bag. The Reissue** uses Mademoiselle rectangular lock closures instead of the double C turn-style lock. Thus the Mademoiselle lock is a more anonymous look.The more indistinctive and widely used a design is, the less likely it is that a court would find the design carries secondary meaning and should be protected.
* Secondary meaning arises over time when consumers identify a distinguishing mark with a certain product
**In February 2005, Karl Lagerfeld re-made the 2.55 – exactly as Coco Chanel had made in 1955, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 2.55.
Btw, do you prefer I hide my face by cropping my images or by covering the exposed face?