Fashion Law

Even Dust Inspires Trademark Infringement

By now you may have seen the dust plugs made to fit into the headphone jack in your cell phone. Many of these charms are modeled after a famous designer handbag. These look-alikes also sport the trademarks of the handbags from which they are designed. Yup, by “sport” I mean further infringe. Assuming there was no licensing agreement with the original designers copied, these charms infringe on the trademark owner’s exclusive right to use or authorize use of marks.

“Designer” dust plugs are no better than counterfeit purses.

Celine designer trademark infringing purses for phone plugs.


Chanel designer trademark infringing purses for phone plugs. Chanel designer trademark infringing purses for phone plugs.

Although the designers being copied are not creating their own versions of these charms, these charms still constitute infringement. This fashion law issue is similar to my infringement for the love of fashion post that covered trademark infringing “designer cell phone cases” on Etsy.

Successful trademark registration does not give a mark owner exclusive ownership of words; however, a trademark owner gets the right to oversee use of the mark and prevent use of a confusingly similar mark in the same line of goods or services.

Do you recognize which brand’s popularity is being used to sell the dust plug in the picture below?

Louis Vuitton designer trademark infringing purses for phone plugs.
Source: via Fashion on Pinterest
Owners of famous marks gain broader rights over their marks. These owners can prevent use of their marks on goods that do not compete with their product. Many factors can be taken into consideration when a trademark owner goes against someone else’s used mark: 

  • Degree of similarity
  • Strength of trademark
  • Existence of customer confusion
  • Evidence of dilution
  • Lack of sophistication on part of buyers to distinguish between the products

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