Having a lawyer with you on your entrepreneurial journey means having a partner you can trust. The legal aspects of a fashion business are important matters you must take into account when opening and scaling your business.
We know that when it comes to investing, hiring a lawyer is not the first thing that comes to mind for most entrepreneurs. But, these legal professionals play a strategic role for any entrepreneur looking to create a business or for a company to expand its operations.
In this article, we explain what fashion law is. We also discuss the importance of handling all legal matters from the very beginning of an enterprise’s journey. We chatted with Laura Ganoza and Steven R. Cade, partners at Foley & Lardner LLP, and members of its Fashion, Apparel & Beauty industry group for their perspectives on the importance of having a solid legal strategy.
What is Fashion Law
Fashion Law, also known as Apparel Law, is a legal specialty. It has been practiced for a while – even though the term is relatively new. It pertains to issues surrounding the life of a garment from conception to brand protection.
In other words, lawyers who practice in this area ensure that everyone involved in the production chain is in legal compliance. In addition, they assist in obtaining patent protection, trademark protection, and provide other strategic advice to ensure the longevity of the brand.
Fashion law clients include brands, designers, factories, distributors, modeling agencies, photographers… Basically, everyone involved in the industry.
Jimenez and Kolsun, in their book Fashion Intellectual Property, Fashion Business Law, and Fashion Public Law, divide this legal specialty into three major systems. These are:
1. Fashion Intellectual Property
One of the most important legal issues in fashion law is intellectual property. As Laura Ganoza states it’s directly related to trademark and copyright.
For example, a designer must take care of the intellectual property of their creation. That is one of the most important tools in a designer’s arsenal.
2. Fashion Business Law
Fashion law also has strong ties to the operational side of the fashion business. That includes licensing, competition law, human rights law (problems concerning labor abuses in factories), labor law, and others.
3. Fashion Public Law
It encompasses several legal areas that are not covered in the two previous systems. Additional areas that fall under fashion public law include freedom of speech and criminal law related to the fashion industry.
Fashion Law: The main functions of lawyers in the industry
Fashion lawyers work with a broad range of duties that go from drafting and negotiating contracts to clearing, enforcing and litigating trademark, copyright, and other intellectual property issues. They oversee the formation and dissolution of business entities and advise on brand development and protection.
These professionals also consult on design protection, import-export, licensing, and other issues.
Also, as Steve Cade says, there’s also IP and the scaling side of it. In order for a business to grow, it’s crucial to focus on corporate matters that span a wide variety of transactions.
Furthermore, it’s essential to make sure that you’re working with a lawyer and firm specialized in the field. That will guarantee that you’ll have all sides of fashion law well covered. And, furthermore, that your company is counseled on best practices in the industry.
Foley & Lardner has the Foley’s Fashion, Apparel, and Beauty Group (Foley FAB), comprised of dedicated lawyers. They represent fashion clients and advise on the various business and legal issues within the industry. The various professionals can advise a business owner on best practices to secure their product and investment.
Why Having a Lawyer is Important for a Business
Ganoza and Cade stated that a lawyer is like a business partner. A lawyer takes care of the legal and documentation side, but they also help a business to grow. In other words, they are the agent that helps companies to scale with strategy, helping to minimize risks along the way.
It takes a single search on Google to find out different companies that have lost everything in lawsuits. It’s disheartening to see a lifetime of work disappear because, from the beginning, the entrepreneur didn’t put in place the right contracts or chose the right strategies. That’s why, to grow big, but safe, a lawyer must be the founder’s right hand.
Foley & Ladner LLP: Your Partners in the Fashion Industry
Foley & Lardner LLP looks beyond the law to focus on the constantly evolving demands facing their clients and their industries.
With over 1,100 lawyers in 24 offices across the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Asia, Foley approaches client service by first understanding our clients’ priorities, objectives, and challenges. The law firm works hard to understand their clients’ issues and forge long-term relationships with them to help achieve successful outcomes and solve their legal issues through practical business advice and cutting-edge legal insight.
In other words, they are the trusted business advisors because they understand that great legal service is only valuable if it is relevant, practical, and beneficial to their businesses.