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How Social Media Is Making It Trickier to Protect Fashion & Footwear Designs

The already complicated task of protecting and defending intellectual property, such as trademarked or copyrighted designs, has become increasingly difficult in the age of social media.
For one thing, accusations can be lobbied online — sometimes without legal basis — and impact public opinion. And disputes between firms can become highly public with the aid of Instagram or Facebook.
At a panel discussion at FN Platform on Feb. 12, Amber Mullenix, director of licensing for apparel firm Jerry Leigh, recalled a time when her company was accused of infringement via a social media post. “It was not a valid claim because of the amount of time that had passed. This was an old product they were referencing,” she said. But because of the public nature of the complaint, it had to be addressed – and carefully.
Mullenix recommended that if your firm receives a cease-and-desist letter or complaint, it’s important to first consider its source and then accumulate as much information as possible about the product design before taking action. “When it comes to responding [to any complaints], the best course of action is to consult with counsel,” she said.
The same amount of care should also be taken if your company is the

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