Resident Sues J. Crew Over Lower East Side Trademark

Posted on: February 3rd, 2011 at 9:27 am by

Slapping the “Bowery” or “Lower East Side” brand on clothing and accessories these days is all the rage. Hoodies, tees, boots, perfumes, and the like are fair game.  Just ask J. Crew, who nabs neighborhood street names for its product lines.

But a quick note to all you entrepreneurial fashion upstarts out there – refrain from using “LOWER EAST SIDE” or “THE LOWER” on any of your new apparel.  Indeed, Clinton Street resident Robert G. Lopez allegedly owns the trademark for the area designation. Since 1997, Lopez has operated an independent line called L.E.S. Clothing Co., which sells branded tees, caps, hoodies, and other urban streetwear. See where this is going?

Armed with this intellectual property (trademark #R31067), Lopez is going after the J. Crew Goliath for trademark infringement. He is suing for all profits received exploiting LOWER EAST SIDE and punitive damages, and will be representing himself in the case, sans attorney (pro se). Seems like a bit of a stretch that a jury would rule in his favor. What do you think?

J Crew Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Lower East Side

[via Fame Appeal]

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  • Jen

    I think all those shirts are stupid, but J.Crew deserves to be sued, trying to act all hip and “downtown”. They’ve tried hard to shed their waspy prep school image, but they really shouldn’t try so hard, it’s unbecoming.

  • Saiko

    I don’t believe that something like this should be considered anyone’s property, but I can’t help rooting for one of the “little guys” to beat these giants at their own game. It’s symbolic of fight against the corporatization of the city in general. I don’t see why he couldn’t win–some woman in Baltimore owns the copyright on the colloquialism “Hon”

  • 5th Gen.

    Corporations aren’t allowed to represent themselves pro se – he has to hire a lawyer, or this suit will be kicked out of court pretty quickly (so long as the trademark is in his corporation’s name rather than his personal name). I don’t know that much about trademark/copyright law, but I think prior use of the term the “Lower East Side” makes it uncopyrightable/trademarkeable – just like when Donald Trump idiotically tried to copyright the phrase “You’re fired” and got laughed out of court. If anyone owns the term, it should be the city. Maybe if he offers to donate all proceeds to the city I’d get behind him, but it’s completely absurd to “own” the term for your neighborhood.

  • Fame Appeal

    from FAME APEAL thanks for support, Fame Appeal brought attention to the plight of LES clothing. Being a law student and operating a fashion/entertainment legal blog is tough, it means a lot that you noticed !

    • Elie

      Was a cool piece. Nice touch with the David v. Goliath bit.

  • Shawn Chittle

    As a proud owner of most of Robert’s stuff (and testimony he’s a nice guy) I hope he prevails or at least are paid a hefty sum by J. Crew legal for licensing!

    First is first, the law is the law. I’m not a lawyer but I do know the reason you take out Trademarks and Copyrights is to protect your brand from confusing entrants. If this J. Crew stuff confuses people into thinking it is somehow affiliated from Robert’s then they are in trouble. I for one would be confused if I saw it.

  • dmnyc

    This dude has no case whatsoever. But, it IS one way to get in the spotlight because most people have never heard of this company.

  • Charles

    Trademarks are a bit outside my wheelhouse as well, though I took a fair amount of IP in law school. I’m wondering, even given an earlier-registered trademark upon which the J. Crew merchandise could potentially infringe, whether an argument could be made that said merchandise is, in trademark parlance, geographically deceptively misdescriptive?

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  • Kgot88

    He should make Jay Crew shirts