The fashion industry is blessed with many ultra-talented designers. And it is quite common for a talented and well-known designer to seek out investors in order to create a brand around the designer’s name. Joseph Abboud and Adriano Goldschmied come to mind as examples.
Typically, when a designer and investors team up, a corporate entity is formed and the trademark associated with the Designer’s personal name is often assigned as an asset to the newly formed corporate entity.
Maybe this love affair lasts forever. However, in my experience, the initial infatuation between the “money” and the “talent” often is often a temporally finite love affair. Should a break up occur, typically the Designer walks away and may not realize he/she has left his/her name as a trademark with the company.
I have been on both sides of this dispute. The Designer may believe with absolute conviction that he/she has the right to use his/her name as a trademark and can often become a Defendant in a trademark infringement action when the Designer’s name shows up on a clothing label manufactured after the “divorce.”
Clothing trademarks live on labels, and even the statement “Designed by [Designer]” underneath a house label is use of the Designer’s name as a trademark.
This is why many Designer’s eventually are disassociated with the clothing lines that bear their names. So, if you….the up and coming Designer, are going to assign all trademark rights to your name, just make sure the price is right.