The story is quickly told. In Seoul, Franc Atelier teaches its students the techniques for creating bags. So far, nothing special or suspicious. The problem lies in the models of bags they make them create. In other words: the most iconic of luxury brands. Consequence: Hermès loses patience, sues it and wins, forcing a large payment for damages. Which, from a certain point of view, according to insiders, creates an important (and unprecedented) legal precedent.
Hermès loses patience
“Offering and advertising courses that teach consumers how to make some of the most famous bags in the world, without the permission of the brand owners, is against the law”. So writes the specialised thefashionlaw.com. “In Korea, in recent years, a worrying trend has taken hold for the owners of luxury brands – explain from Kim & Chang law firm that defended Hermès -. Ateliers and workshops have begun offering lessons on how to create imitations of various iconic luxury bags, such as those from Hermès. Most often, they offer the necessary materials pre-cut and easy to assemble. And they teach students how to assemble these materials using simple sewing techniques. In this way they sell the possibility of producing their own iconic bag at a cost enormously lower than that of authentic ones”.
At the fake’s school
Franc Atelier was stopped by Korean judges because lessons were not limited to “teaching students general manual working methods”. In other words, it provided students with “materials that mirrored the shape and general appearance of the most sought after and legally protected by the Hermès brand”. The ruling therefore recognised that “the school was essentially engaged in conduct equivalent to the manufacture and sale of counterfeit or illegal goods”. And “violated the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act of Korea (UCPA)”.
An important precedent
Beyond the sentence itself and the undisclosed sum paid to Hermès as compensation for damages, this is an important legal precedent according to insiders. The scope is that of protection of the intellectual property of brands and products.
In the image, 2 screenshots from The Making of an Hermès Kelly Bag video made by New York Times Style Magazine