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Jimmy Choo Ltd. recently announced plans to go public and list its stock on the London Stock Exchange. The IPO could value the company at more than $1.1 billion and would make it the first stand-alone luxury shoe brand to be publicly traded.
While that certainly makes a stock-surfing, shoe lover’s heart go pitter-patter (or, more accurately, clickity, clickity), counterfeiters who might be thinking about profiting off the announcement should take a big stiletto step back.
One of the market advantages that Jimmy Choo has in its IPO efforts is its strong name brand and an association with Hollywood and glamor (Would we all have tuned in every week to watch Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw pursuing love in a pair of practical Payless pumps?)
As Intellectual Property Magazine put it:
A strong brand name is extremely valuable: the stronger the brand, the greater the public attraction. Fashion items are often bought by consumers who wish to be associated with the particular brand image, rather than perhaps because they like the particular design.
Nevertheless, Jimmy Choo certainly goes to great strides to protect their designs. The company has been known to stomp all over those who steal its intellectual property, including Marks & Spencer, New Look, Oasis and Warehouse.
Most of Jimmy Choo’s cases have involved protection of their designs under the United Kingdom’s Registered Community Design law. Intellectual Property Magazine explains:
The RCD regime has been a success as protection can be obtained relatively easily and cheaply, with RCDs proceeding to registration usually within a week and often within 24 hours of filing. Whilst a design must be both novel and have individual character (in that the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from that of earlier designs made to the public), designs are not examined at the application stage. Further, unlike the Community trademark system, there is no opposition procedure. However, whilst this makes them easy to obtain, their validity may be precarious when it comes to enforcement.
But Jimmy Choo has also gone after websites that are too similar in name (as was the case when the company threatened to sue New Zealand novelty gift website Kookychoo.com for trademark infringement in 2008); or that are blatantly seeking to profit off the Jimmy Choo name, most recently in 2013 when the company won two domain names from a Chinese domain owner after the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center ruled in its favor.
There’s some good(ish) news for Jimmy Choo. In March, WallStreet247.com published its list of the nine most counterfeited products in America, by far the largest market for counterfeit goods in the world. Number six on the list was footwear, number four was wearing apparel and accessories, and number one was handbags and wallets, all of which are goods that Jimmie Choo produces.
Counterfeit footwear used to be the number one commodity, but thanks to the recent efforts of Customs and Border Protection (CPB), there were fewer seizures in 2013 compared to the year before, and the value of those seizures dropped by nearly 47% in 2013, from $103.4 million in 2012 to $54.9 million in 2013.
$54.9 million is still a whole lot of Choos.