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Collaborating Instead of Litigating: Brands Make Hay of ‘Artistic’ Homage

Fashion Law leader Anthony Lupo spoke with WWD as part of their feature on a recent trend by companies to bring provocative (and critical) social media voices into their fold.

“Why are brands so quick to show they’re “in” on the joke and in turn validate what is simply an Instagram account doing little beyond calling out designers for copying one another,” asked WWD.

Mr. Lupo agreed that brands have been more open to collaborations, but added that working in tandem instead of going through litigation is “brilliant” and that he advises all of his clients to “at least consider it” when faced with such a dilemma.

“If I have a counterfeiter that’s a different story,” Mr. Lupo said. “But if I have someone who’s using a client’s brand for an homage — it’s like how you treat your fans, and that has to be done very carefully. In today’s world, especially if they have a social following, why not bring them into the fold and make it work for you. Then you’ve embraced the product and maybe you’ve even shaped it so they don’t say anything bad about you.”

But there is a fine line between homage and parody and Mr. Lupo said a brand has to weigh the “artistic element” before working with a relatively unknown entity. “Just because someone is making art about you doesn’t mean they should get to collaborate with you,” Lupo said. “You have to be really savvy, because it can look desperate.”

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