Brand collaborations remain fashionable in fashion. Versace x H&M, BMW x Louis Vuitton and Kayne x Adidas are celebrated.
Co-branding raises profile and opens markets, but brings commercial and legal risks. If trade marks are used wrongly, then hard earnt legal protection can be lost.
Trade mark registrations can become unenforceable against later trade marks or infringers. Worse, existing trade marks could be cancelled altogether. Trade mark owners can be called to provide evidence of use or reputation. A challenger will scrutinise collaborations to challenge this evidence.
Key is not mingling marks. Melding brands to create new imagery can allow a partner to gain unwanted rights – or weaken your rights against others. Keeping them distinct is best practice. Ditch over creative visual integration. Embedding one brand inside another or using the characteristic font or colour of one fashion house within the other should be done cautiously. Co-branded tags and neck labels can be dangerous, but separated brands can appear on clothing. Professional sport generally does this well.
Imagination and inspiration drive fashion forward. Collaborations will continue – and shrewd operators will manage them properly – even on limited edition runs. BURLEY LAW x XXXX anyone?