Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Benefit of Fashion Law Degrees and the Predicament of their Cost

Authored by one of my talented law clerks this summer, Ms. Anna Zabotina, we're offered a fresh perspective on Fordham's new fashion law degrees from the perspective of a law student.

On Monday, June 21st Fordham Law School announced the addition of two new fashion law programs to its curriculum.  The programs promise specialized legal training for the fashion industry. The first program provides an avenue for industry professionals without legal experience to learn about what could affect their business. The second degree for attorneys presents a conundrum of whether this added education is necessary for those who want to work for a fashion client but cannot afford the luxury price tag.

In 2010 Susan Scafidi launched the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School after persuasive lobbying from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The program includes various fashion focused legal classes such as, Fashion Licensing and Fashion Retail Law, and a summer “boot-camp”. During three weeks in the summer, interested individuals are able to receive a quick rundown of what affects the industry, and attend varying networking opportunities. This 2-credit (if already attending law school) or certificate granting program runs at $3,900.00.

Nevertheless, during the launch announcement of the two new degrees on Monday, Scafidi stated that in order to have the field gain respect, students should have a degree to show for their specialized knowledge. The first program being offered to those, who already have a law degree, is a Master of Laws (L.L.M) in Fashion Law. The yearlong (full-time) or three semester long (part-time) curriculum will teach about the “four pillars” of Fashion Law in 24-27 credits. The pillars are; intellectual property, business and finance, international trade and government regulation, and consumer culture and civil rights. Additionally, the school will provide varying events and networking opportunities to the students. For more information see (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23599/fashion_law). For eligibility criteria see (http://www.fordham.edu/info/21170/apply/5169/eligibility).

The second degree is a Masters Degree for Industry Professionals (M.S.L) in Fashion Law. It is designed for individuals either already working as designers, production managers, licensing directors, human resources coordinators, and so on, or for those that aspire to work in the fashion industry. The curriculum is meant to develop a "legal literacy" for industry professionals through the four pillars of fashion law. Diane Von Furstenberg, President of CFDA and a large supporter of the program, has said that she “firmly believes this program will become a powerful tool in the fashion world and beyond, and help us all as an industry – lawyers or not – better understand, grow and protect our businesses.” Scafidi added that if nothing else, this program will teach the fashion industry when to acquire professional legal help. For more information on classes and how to apply visit (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23328/msl_in_fashion_law).

Overall, the degrees are meant to safeguard an industry that has had an increase in litigation over the last decade, as evidenced by several high profile lawsuits such as the "Christian Louboutin Red-Sole" lawsuit [Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent Am. Holding, Inc.,], and the "Marc Jacobs Three-Stripe" lawsuit [Adidas America Inc. et al. v. Marc Jacobs International LLC]. According to the founders, since every single aspect of a fashion business has a legal component (coming up with a brand name, leasing real estate for sale, hiring employees, etc.) it is extremely beneficial to have individuals with a specialty in the field that can zero in on specific needs of a client and prevent disputes.

It should be noted, however that fashion law is not a new law field, per se.  Fashion law is made up of a combination of intellectual property, real estate, business, financial, employment, contract law, international trade, product and fashion compliance, and marketing law. The majority of these fields have been taught at most law schools for decades.

As a law student who is interested in working for a fashion business, I am drawn toward the idea of classes focused on the industry. Also, the M.S.L. program provides the type of education  that someone in the industry without prior legal background could definitely benefit from. Still, I wonder if it is possible to succeed as someone who has had a legal education and finds the idea of adding to student debt daunting.

The tuition for the L.L.M program is $53,440.00 a year, and for the M.S.L. program it is $40,080. These price tags are suited for luxury goods.

For those that cannot afford to attend the program, taking classes similar to those offered at the L.L.M program during law school could be an alternative. Although all of the required courses have not been posted yet, they can be found in the future at (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23599/fashion_law). The degrees offer varying networking events which are essential to any legal career. Nevertheless, in the past it was possible to attend events at the Fashion Insitute without being a student there, through a separate registration for a minimal fee. For Fashion Institute's events check out (http://fashionlawinstitute.com/institute-events/the-power-of-fashion). Hence, it could be possible to design your own "fashion law" curriculum where attending the LLM program is not feasible.

While the combination of classes in varying law fields, and industry insight might make individuals that acquire these degrees desirable to employers and clients.  The inability to attend the program does not squander one's chances of working for a fashion business, as long as steps are taken to learn and master the different fields of law that make-up "fashion law."  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

AGOA Matters!

Today I joined a conference call with White House Senior Administration officials to talk about the President’s trade agenda in relation to the African Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA).

Notably, the renewed AGOA agreement is different from prior AGOA renewals in at least 3 ways.

The first is that the length of the extension of the AGOA agreement will be for 10 years.

The second is that “Third Country Fabric Provision” will be extended the same length as the renewed AGOA, so we no longer have to worry about this provision expiring before the AGOA extension itself.

The third is that a value on African labor, as opposed to just materials themselves, will now be considered.

The Brookings Institution put out a great analysis on the state of the AGOA, which can be viewed here.

Questions/comments? Post below or email me at clark.deanna@gmail.com

Keep up with me at www.fashioncompliance.com or:
On Twitter @fashcompliance

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ever Wonder Just How Much is Being Imported into the U.S. From China?

Now you can see for yourself what those figures look like in relation to textile and apparel imports thanks to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s latest release which compiles such 2014 data in to a single handy document.

The annual report contains a compilation of the statistical reports published every two weeks by the Commission on the volume, value, unit value, and import market share of imports from China that were subject to the provisions of the 2005 U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Trade in Textiles and Apparel (MOU).  This compilation includes official import data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and shows data at the 3-digit textile/apparel category level and by the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 10-digit subheadings in these categories.

Want to read through it for yourself?  The Textile and Apparel Imports from China: Statistical Reports, Annual Compilation 2014 (Inv. No. 332-501, USITC publication 4535, May 2015) is available on the USITC's Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4535.pdf.

Questions/comments?  Post below or email me at clark.deanna@gmail.com

Keep up with me at www.fashioncompliance.com or:
On Twitter @fashcompliance

Thursday, May 7, 2015

AVVO Talk: How to Avoid Design Patent Issues When Importing Home Decoration Items?

Question Continued: Can you get sued over design patent issues if you import similar items like examples below? 

For examples, 


Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice.
Deanna's Response:

Hello, If you don't have permission from the patent holder, and there is one, then you would absolutely be at risk of an accusation of such unlawful act - by US Customs first and foremost. 

US Customs has its own seizure process on imported goods, so before you even get to an issue with the patent holder as some of the attorneys below have discussed, you need to know that US Customs can seize the goods themselves so you'll never get them. Once the seizure has occurred, then the penalty phase begins and depending on your level of "culpability" (i.e., guilt level - be it negligence, fraud, first time offender, etc.), the penalty amounts can vary but it's never cheap. And yes, because the patent holder would be notified, they too may commence a lawsuit against you as well.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sustainable Fashion Highlight of the Week: Attending CFDA - Fashion Positive - C2C Event

Highlight of the week: Being invited by the Council of Fashion Designers of America to join Fashion Positive C2C​, BIONIC YARN​, Cradle to Cradle​, and a room full of #sustainable #fashion thought makers to discuss #upcycling and creating regenerative products, as well as thinking about global systems to integrate this concept into the fashion industry in a more expansive way.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Who Made Your Clothes?" and Fashion Revolution Day

Did you join the movement and post your selfie asking 
"Who Made Your Clothes?" for Fashion Revolution Day?

As participants in international trade, we have a responsibility to ask ourselves who is making the clothes we facilitate the importation of, whether as buyers, distributors, importers and those "behind-the-scenes" folks like myself.

So - Who Made Your Clothes?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Many Thanks and Happy Earth Day!

A big THANK YOU to our stellar law clerk Sophie from Pace Law School for her wonderful contribution to our office this Spring 2015 semester.  Congratulations on completing your L.L.M. and Happy Earth Day!