There’s a memorable story in the retail world about how Victoria’s Secret won a lawsuit’s victory against the former May Department Store Company in a landmark case that determined that the sexy lingerie chain and mainstream department store company were not competitors in the sale of underwear.
This victory allowed Victoria’s Secret to hire the chairman of May’s Foley’s Department Store division as its chief operating officer despite a non-competition agreement between the executive and the department store chain.
The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling saying that Victoria’s Secret “markets sex appeal” to women “specifically in their mid-twenties.” In comparison, May’s core customers were women aged 40 to 50. Since the retailers weren’t found to be competitors in intimate apparel market, the executive’s non-competition agreement was not triggered when he changed jobs. The co-lead attorney in this case was Armstrong Teasdale partner Bill Corrigan.
Bill and our winning team of attorneys and professionals represent the fashion and footwear industries in the key areas of law that affect their businesses throughout the world. Our clients include local and global fashion and footwear wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and licensees that manufacture, market and/or sell apparel, footwear, eyewear, undergarments, jewelry, luggage, bags, and other accessories. Team members pool their experience and knowledge to provide clients with one-stop shopping for the legal services they need to compete in this global economy.
The firm’s Midwestern headquarters allows us to deliver our services in a cost-effective and competitive manner. Our responsive team can then provide flexible, scalable solutions based on a client’s needs. In addition to our eight U.S. locations, we have a Shanghai office through which we operate our expanding Asian practice. We are also a member of Lex Mundi, an association of 21,000 attorneys practicing in 160 law firms in more than 100 countries.
- Represented global apparel and footwear retailers and wholesalers in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating commercial contracts. These include agreements with distributors in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Provided securities and corporate governance counseling to a publicly traded footwear company.
- Counseled a national clothing and accessories retailer in the restructuring of its executive compensation and ownership.
- Represented a private equity fund in a middle market acquisition of a bag manufacturer.
- Provided IP counseling to global clothing, accessories, footwear, and outdoor recreation products manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.
- Developed a robust product design review program to minimize infringement claims.
- Evaluated footwear and accessories for potential utility and design patents.
- Counseled and defended a client in connection with its claims that third parties were infringing its luggage design patents.
- Drafted and reviewed marketing materials and webpages for a major national footwear retailer.
- Policed Internet infringement for a major national footwear retailer.
- Provided IP counseling for a major sock company seeking to enhance brand management and IP portfolio value.
- Responded to allegations of infringement related to footwear, handbag and sock designs.
- Represented an Italian luxury fashion brand regarding its corporate, intellectual property, e-commerce and compliance matters in China.
- Advised a premium British fashion jewelry brand regarding its Chinese business, intellectual property and licensing matters.
- Advised a leading British High Street fashion brand regarding its Chinese operations.
- Assisted a global footwear company in identifying and responding to international intellectual property infringement and counterfeiting issues.
- Identified import duty savings opportunities and reviewed transactions for customs compliance for apparel and footwear sales by a large big box retailer.
- Advocated for foreign manufacturers and U.S. importers of retail products in antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings before the Court of International Trade.
- Responded to formal and informal inquiries from U.S. Customs related to classification and valuation of retail merchandise, including apparel and footwear.
- Advised a major British fashion brand regarding its franchising business in China.
Franchising and Licensing
- Developed franchise documents for a specialty footwear retailer with a well-established store in the Mall of America.
- Represented a global footwear company regarding license agreements in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia for the company’s store concept and the manufacturing, marketing and selling footwear, handbags and apparel on a wholesale and retail basis.
- Represented a public footwear company licensee with respect to the licensing of numerous trademarks owned by celebrities and designers used in the company’s products.
Employment and Labor
- Counseled a national clothing and accessories retailer regarding various employment and separation issues.
- Represented a national department store chain against EEOC suits.
- Acted as local counsel for a race discrimination, defamation and service letter violation case against a national women’s lingerie chain and a current store manager.
- Advised a British fashion accessory company regarding employment matters.
- Successfully represented a home and body fragrance chain in several class actions regarding alleged defects in home fragrance products.
- Defended an international footwear company in connection with a claim for copyright infringement of a shoe design.
- Defended a major department store against personal injury, false arrest and malicious prosecution claims in multiple lawsuits.
- Obtained a favorable settlement in a trademark lawsuit involving the primary brand for a national footwear retailer and another major big box retailer.
- Obtained a favorable settlement for a national footwear retailer in a trademark and copyright infringement matter involving infringement by an Internet-based business.
- Successfully defended two national retailers against false arrest and premises liability allegations.
Financial Restructuring, Reorganization and Bankruptcy
Represented a secured lender as part of an auction of the assets of a large manufacturer of coats and clothing.
Represented a secured lender of a manufacturer of coats and clothing in a dispute about pricing, sales, setoffs and industry standards beyond the contract terms.
Represented a secured lender in a dispute about the rights of a large manufacturer of coats and clothing to sell an intellectual property license.