MIDDLETONS’ ONGOING service of the fashion industry through intellectual property advice has seen the firm partner the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF) for the fourth year running.
“Since probably about the last five years, Middletons has been nicknamed ‘the fashion cops’,” partner Tony Watson said.
“We started off acting for Bettina Liano in a case where someone had copied designs for one of her garments. We brought an action in the Federal Court, which got a fair bit of press and notoriety.
“And arising from that we brought two more actions for her, where similar people were copying her garments. And since then we’ve acted for Review, and Scanlan & Theodore and Sportsgirl, and many others in those sorts of actions — mostly people copying designs within Australia.”
Middletons’ fashion-related practice has grown in Melbourne to include approximately 40 Melbourne fashion houses. This has seen the firm conduct copyright actions, as well as take steps to stop counterfeiting that arises mainly in Asia, but also at home.
Watson also believes that the attention the firm has paid to the fashion industry is starting to influence its lawyers wardrobes. “When you go to these functions, you’ve got to suddenly get out of the boring old grey pinstripe and the brogues,” he said.
“Quite a few of us have moved to the pink shirts, and plenty of cufflink action out there. A few of us here — not me — have gone the lime green with the pink tie, and the bold white stitching on the shoes.”
During the festival, Middletons will host a law breakfast, to be held on 7 March.
“One of the hot issues which really arose literally on the eve of last year’s LMFF, was on the morning of the business law breakfast, the Textile Clothing Footwear Union staged a demonstration before the breakfast, all about the issue of the use of outworkers and ensuring there were appropriate conditions for outworkers engaged in the Australian clothing manufacturing industry,” Watson said.
“This year’s focus [is] on the legal implications of outworkers which have an impact on both fashion labels and manufacturers operating in and around Melbourne.”