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Fashion and law intersect

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As the fashion industry continues to grow in Indianapolis – including a handful of fashion design programs at colleges and universities in central Indiana, and at least four organizations for local designers and supporters of fashion in Indiana – an upcoming lecture about the intersection of fashion and the law just seems to make sense for the design community and the legal community.

“Fashioning the Law of Design” will take place at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, 530 W. New York St. at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9. The lecture is the Jordan H. and Joan R. Leibman Annual Forum, which has traditionally included topics that somehow touch on art, business, and law.

This program will include intellectual property attorney Kenan Farrell, a solo in Indianapolis who graduated from the law school in 2003 and previously practiced in San Francisco. He represents various players in the local fashion community, including designers and makeup artists, as well as visual artists, musicians, and others in creative endeavors around the world but mostly in Indiana.
 

Allen Attorney Niquelle Allen was working for Eli Lilly when she decided to quit in April 2009 to follow her dream to open her consignment store, Butterfly Boutique, in Indianapolis. She also works for a law firm part-time. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The other featured speaker is Beth Bennett, founder and owner of Beth Bennett Couture, where she makes custom clothes for clients. She is also an adjunct professor who teaches fashion design courses at the Art Institute of Indianapolis, and has and continues to design costumes for theatre productions in Indianapolis.

After Farrell and Bennett address the audience, the conversation will continue with a question-and-answer session, followed by a reception in the law school atrium at 6:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and includes 1.3 hours of CLE credit.
 

Bennett Bennett

Farrell and Bennett have similar stances on the legal issues of fashion, which they plan to address at the lecture.

For instance, both disagree with the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, which was introduced in Congress Aug. 7. However, it does have the support of the both the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

It’s not because either Farrell or Bennett disagrees with the protection of trademarks. Neither one thinks it’s OK for fake goods to be passed off as their brand name counterparts. For instance, they agree that a purse that looks like it was made by Coach, that includes a Coach label, shouldn’t be sold for a small fraction of the price by a street vendor.

But they don’t think a fashion design on its own should be patented.

For instance, Farrell pointed out that because fashion moves so quickly, a design on the runway in the fall could be passé within six months, not to mention within two years or longer that it would take for a patent to be processed.

Not to mention how congested the courts could become if someone could file suits over fashion designs. Clothes, unless passed off as having a trademark they do not really have, are considered a utilitarian item, like food or certain car parts that also have limited intellectual property protection.


Farrell Farrell

Another issue he said that could hurt even the bigger manufacturers is that fashion doesn’t just trickle down, but designers also can get inspiration from what they see people wear on the street.

So if a designer happened to see an outfit on a design student and copied it, and the student figured out that her look was copied exactly, under the proposed act the student could sue the designer if the student had the means, Farrell said.

Bennett said it’s rare for a designer to want to copy another design exactly. At least that has been the case with her and other designers she knows of in Indianapolis and her students.

Because she makes everything custom, even if a client shows her a photo of a wedding dress she really likes, Bennett said she will still modify it enough to better suit the client’s style and fit, and to make it an original design.

She said she has some concern that someone could copy one of her designs, but the closest she has come is someone using a photograph of one of her dresses and passing it off as her own on a website.

Bennett said she has been lucky not to need a lawyer so far. But in case she does, she said she documents every fitting and every meeting with her clients, and then has the clients sign those documents, so there’s no confusion later on either side.

Another example of fashion and law intersecting is attorney Niquelle Allen’s shop in Indianapolis, Butterfly Consignment.

Allen practiced at Ice Miller from 2004 to 2007, then at Eli Lilly from 2007 to 2009.

Because she had shopped in consignment stores since she was in college in the late 1990s, she had always wanted to open her own store. But it wasn’t until April 2009 when she had a conversation with some of her best friends about their dream jobs that she decided to do it.

While her friends mentioned jobs like Oprah’s personal assistant or having a cooking show on cable, hers was the most attainable and they encouraged her to follow her dream.

She then read a book about resale shops that she had bought a year ago, and quit her job shortly after. Before opening her store in December 2009, she took a few classes through the Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana, which is affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In June, she started practicing law again but only on a contract basis with a new Indianapolis firm, Fleming Stage, which consists of attorneys who are also Ice Miller alums.

Allen said her legal experience has been useful in her business including contracts for consigners – 50 percent of each sale goes back to the consigner; trademark issues for brand name items – she will not sell counterfeits in her store; and her experience in employment law matters has helped her deal with her employees and customers.

“I’ve learned from my experience in employment law it’s better to be honest because if you’re not, it can come back to haunt you later,” something she emphasizes with her employees, she said.

For instance, if a consigner comes in with a jacket that’s unacceptable because it’s out of fashion, it smells like cigarette smoke, it has a defect or stain, or if there’s any other reason the store wouldn’t carry the item, Allen said it’s better to explain to the customer, nicely, why they won’t accept the item.

Like Farrell and Bennett, Allen supports the growing community of designers in Indiana. She carries three categories of items: “pre-loved”; “N” love, new items from boutiques; and “made with love.”

She carries “made with love” items from 15 vendors around the state, mostly businesses owned by women, including jewelry and accessories, such as purses by ReFind Originals Recycled Leather Bags, and handmade soap by Curat Clean, both based in Indianapolis.

All three expect fashion will continue to grow in Indianapolis, and “why not?” Farrell said. “Indianapolis is one of the top 10 growing cities in the country, many young people live here who are well educated and have money to spend,” he said.

He added that because of this, there will likely be more legal issues for those who are involved with fashion.

“For any industry to grow, you need all the players in place, including the lawyers,” he said. “Lawyers need to focus on intellectual property and fashion, and the business of fashion, so the designers can focus on being creative.”•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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