This is all about Fashion.

If you’re like me, every once in a while, you see an adorable-looking dog and just say to yourself, “Oh dogs, gotta love ‘em.”  And, if you’re like me and live in Los Angeles, you occasionally follow that by saying to yourself, “What the…?!  Can that adorable-looking dog really be standing in the middle of this [department store/market/restaurant]?”  Singer/reality star/(alleged) plastic surgery cautionary tale Aubrey O’Day recently brought that question to the front of many people’s minds, with her decision to allow her dogs to sit on the tables at local brunch spot Toast reportedly triggering a city Health Department investigation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid animal lover.  I even wanted to be a vet in high school, when I was trying to “find” myself.  But anytime I see a starlet with a pink-clad Chihuahua (or three) sticking out of her purse, I can’t help but ask how pets have managed to become people’s latest accessory, going almost everywhere with their owners (if the word “owner” makes you cringe, I apologize in advance, but that’s a legal term and not intended to hurt the feelings of any animals reading this blog).   And aside from people’s disapproving glares, are there any limits to where your favorite celebrities (and you) can bring their pets?

Continue Reading No Dogs on the Table, Please

The first time I saw Dakota Fanning’s now-infamous ad for Marc Jacobs’ new Oh Lola! fragrance was on the back of a Cosmopolitan resting in the hands of my 19-year old baby sister. My immediate reaction was “OMG…is that Dakota Fanning?! No way she’s grown up that fast!” Then my gaze shifted to the circus-caliber trait that Dakota and I happen to have in common (no, it’s not our shocking good looks) — double-jointed elbows. (God, I love it when celebrities are weird like me.)
Continue Reading Oh Dakota! Why Can’t We Keep Our Dirty Eyes Off You?

I tried, Law Law Land readers, I really, really tried. I struggled, but alas, I was not strong enough to stop myself from writing about the Kardashian divorce.

The 72-day marriage (if it can even be called that) of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (herein referred to as “KK,” or maybe “666” would be more appropriate), is chock full of legal issues. What about the pre-nuptial agreement? (“Ironclad,” I’m sure, but speculation is already swirling about whether Kim’s “shady behavior” has rendered it “worthless.”) What to do with the gifts? (Apparently Kim is donating$200,000 to charity in lieu of returning the gifts. I’m sure the people who bought her the $375 candy jar, or $6,500 vase, or $1,250 serving spoon, or $1,600 teapot, or $840 ashtray are thrilled about that decision and the tax write off she gets. And no, I did not make up those items or prices). Why isn’t gay marriage legal and this is? (Beats me, but it really makes you think about that whole “sanctity of marriage” argument.)

No, you aren’t having a stroke, it really is that big and shiny.

But the burning issue I want to write on? What happens to THE RING? (I think the 20.5-carat sparkler deserves all-caps treatment.)
Continue Reading Losing all Faith in Love (and Reality Television)

Sometimes mistakes are made by accident. Sometimes mistakes are made on purpose (which, I guess, makes them not really mistakes). And sometimes, mistakes are made by, um, stupidity. File this one under stupid.

The Attorney General of the Navajo Nation recently sent Urban Outfitters a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the corporation stop using the Navajo Nation’s trademarks to sell clothing and accessories that are completely unrelated to the Navajo people. Urban Outfitters’ (extremely tasteful) line of 24 “Navajo”-themed items included such surefire crowd-pleasers (pictured below) as the “Navajo Hipster Panty” and the Navajo flask — especially charming, I’m sure, to a Native American community that has long struggled with alcoholism and whose alcohol-related mortality rate is nearly 12%. Or maybe the style-makers at UO just hadn’t heard.

Just a few items from Urban Outfitters’ site described as “Navajo."

But Urban Outfitters’ “Navajo” product line wasn’t just culturally insensitive (not to mention egregiously ugly). It was also probably a violation of both trademark law and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.
Continue Reading Panties in a Twist

Sadly, “shocking” racist or bigoted celebrity tirades no longer make for shocking news. Even if the Constitution can’t protect them in the court of public opinion, celebrities like Mel GibsonMichael Richards, andTracy Morgan are lucky enough to live in America, where the First Amendment protects them from legal consequences for the absurd things that come out of their mouths. John Galliano, on the other hand? Not so lucky. He could face jail time for his recent anti-Semitic and racist rants.

The former creative director of French fashion house Christian Dior was arrested in February for allegedly shouting anti-Jewish and racist insults at a couple at a bar in Paris. He also allegedly exchanged slaps with the couple. Galliano was immediately fired from his position at Christian Dior and ostracized from the fashion community. Shortly after the incident, Galliano ended up in rehab (which is now apparently a cure for everything from alcoholism to racism to not being able to stop once you pop). In court, Galliano claimed that he was an alcoholic and drug addict, and that these addictions caused him to make the racist rants (of which he supposedly has no memory). Galliano is being charged with making “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” — a type of prohibition which was widely adopted throughout Europe in the aftermath of the Holocaust — and could face up tosix months in prison.

Although Galliano is, in practice, unlikely to see a jail cell even if he’s convicted, the fact that it’s a possibility at all is more-than-mildly perplexing to us Americans who are used to having free reign to make comments like that — usually either on a stand-up stage, while being arrested for something else, or on Fox News — without the threat of prosecution. So when can you go to jail for speech in America?
Continue Reading How the First Amendment Protects Your Right to Be a Jerk

WTForever21 is a blog devoted to poking fun at some of the more ridiculous clothing items offered by well-known clothing store Forever 21. While the author, Rachel Kane, admits that most of her closet is comprised of Forever 21’s “tasteful, trendy and totally awesome selection,” the blog focuses on those items that go “horribly awry.” If you’ve ever stepped into a Forever 21, you KNOW what she is talking about. While there are tons of great items for cheap, there are also some pieces that look like they were designed by Dame Edna (take this tired, ruffled, print jumpsuit, or this gem, or these floral, woven harem pants).

Apparently, Forever 21 isn’t big on humor – it sent Ms. Kane a cease and desist letter claiming that, because her website makes use of its federally registered trademark and product photographs, it constitutes trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition and dilution (these are all concepts Forever 21’s legal team is intimately familiar with since the company has been the subject of multiple suits from others claiming those exact same legal theories). The letter also noted that her website’s title refers to an abbreviation (WTF) that the general public might find offensive (or hilarious – it is a fine line). Unfortunately, my lawyers have advised me that I shouldn’t curse in this blog, so if you don’t know what WTF stands for, you may just have to Google it (and you need to get the F out more often).
Continue Reading Forever 21 SLAPPS Blogger with a Potential Lawsuit

Ask a fashionista what a red soled shoe means and they’ve got two words for you: Christian Louboutin. (On the other hand, ask a guy what a shoe with a red sole means and they’ll probably answer: dirty shoes). Christian Louboutin believes the red sole defines his brands identity, so in 2008 he trademarked his red sole with the US Trademark office. Today, Christian Louboutin has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to enforcing his trademark (and if you’re looking for a working definition of “zero tolerance,” it might look something like this video of a monster truck rolling over thousands of counterfeit Louboutins). He has even sued brands such as Carmen SteffensOh. . . Deer, and more recently Yves Saint Laurent for violating this trademark.

Is Louboutin overreaching by claiming proprietary rights in red shoe soles? The answer might have Yves Saint Laurent’s lawyers seeing red.
Continue Reading A Fight for Your Sole

Ever since Michelle Obama wore J.Crew on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the company’s sales have skyrocketed. Under the leadership of my personal style hero Jenna Lyons (who is currently at the center of a ridiculous controversy over painting her son’s toenails…side note: I heart Jon Stewart), J.Crew sales went up 14%, even during the economic downturn. I can neither confirm nor deny reports that my personal purchases from J.Crew accounted for 13.9% of that increase.

So what did Micky Drexler, CEO of J.Crew, decide to do with these booming sales? Sell, of course! Only, some shareholders accused him of selling at below market value (a mere $3 billion). AND he sold it to J.Crew’s own former parent company. AND he waited 7 weeks to tell the Board of Directors about the deal. AND he said he would not work for anyone besides the buyers with whom he negotiated the deal (TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners). Whoops.

Not surprisingly, lawsuits ensued.

Shortly after the announcement of the J.Crew sale to TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, shareholders filed a lawsuit against J.Crew, its Board of Directors, and TPG for breaching their fiduciary duties. The parties eventually settled for $10 million, netting each shareholder 15 cents per share, and each lawyer about $500 per hour (who exactly “won” this lawsuit again?). But the fight is far from over, as the plaintiffs’ lawyers now accuse J.Crew of violating the settlement agreement. And, even though corporate governance advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services advised J.Crew’s shareholders to vote against the sale, the shareholders nevertheless approved the $3 billion buyout last month.

Although Mickey Drexler has publicly said he would conduct the sale the exact same way (I’m sure), the whole situation is basically a lesson on what not to do in a management-led buyout.
Continue Reading A Lesson in What Not to Do When Selling Your Company to Yourself

Living in Los Angeles (and the world, really), it’s nearly impossible to miss any news about Lindsay Lohan. This will certainly be true again come Friday, as Lindsay makes the latest in her seemingly never-ending string of court appearance (this time, in connection with charges that she stole a $2,500 necklace from a Venice Beach jeweler). You might expect that, as a lawyer, my observations about the proceedings will be focused on all the legal wrangling and/or nuanced issues of law. But it doesn’t look like there’s anything particularly legally interesting about Lindsay’s situation, and — like every other media-watcher in America — I’ve been conditioned to instead watch Lindsay’s monthly courtroom visits with a keen eye for the fashion.

No, it’s not that I saw a story about Lindsay’s courtroom fashion choices on Access Hollywood. … Okay, maybe I did see that story on Access Hollywood (a gal’s gotta relax after a hard day’s work somehow). But even “reputable” news outlets like CNN and the Los Angeles Times have been no less obsessive about the sartorial elements of the Lohan legal drama.

Terrifyingly, I have sometimes found myself agreeing with Lindsay herself in thinking, “Who cares what she wears to court?” But the reality is that courtroom fashion choices can represent a considered element of legal strategy — and are even subject to specific judicial rules.
Continue Reading Oh My God…She Wore WHAT? Lessons on Courtroom Fashion, Care of Lindsay Lohan

Ever drooled over something you couldn’t afford at Neiman Marcus, then walked into another cheaper store (cough, Forever 21, cough) and saw basically the exact same thing (except, perhaps, made out of highly flammable material) at a fraction of the price? I know I have (and maybe squealed for joy at my discovery). While the fashionista in me was doing a little dance, the lawyer in me was thinking, “This looks like some blatant copyright infringement to me!”

Forever 21 is at the top of the fast fashion game — not least when it comes to “borrowing” from high-end brands. As a result, it is constantly being sued for copyright infringement (herehereherehere, and, oh yeah, here). In total, over 50 designers have sued Forever 21. However, it has never been found liable for copyright infringement (leading to a wee bit of bitterness). Why is that?
Continue Reading How the Law Lets Me Trick You Into Thinking I’m Wearing Chanel When It’s Really from Forever 21 (For Now)