Intellectual Property

Fashion brand Ksubi imitates Google

SmartCompany /

Fashion brand Ksubi, which gained publicity for a series of stunts such as releasing rats on a fashion catwalk, has potentially taken on Google with the launch of its new global website.

The new website at www.ksubi.com, borrows heavily from Google.com’s minimalist design. Take a look:

Ksubi

SmartCompany.com.au contacted Google Australia for its response to the site’s design, but a spokesman declined to comment.

The website, which is most likely deliberately provocative, raises an interesting question: How much can you copy of a website design and layout before breaching copyright or other intellectual property rights in the originator’s design?

Many people would say the secret to the Google.com home page is it’s simplicity, but has this left it vulnerable to imitators?

Paul Zawa, intellectual property lawyer at Minter Ellison, says that the website is unlikely to be considered as “passing off” or making misleading or deceptive representations under the Trade Practices Act because it is clearly labelled with the Ksubi brand.

“And how do you get there? By typing in ksubi.com,” says Zawa.

Ksubi, a fashion house, is not in the same business as the search engine giant Google, so it may not be worth its while to pursue infrigement of any potential copyright in the website’s design against Ksubi.

If it did, it would not be the first time Ksubi has been in legal hot water over intellectual property rights. The company, which was formed by George Gorrow, Dan Single and Gareth Moody in a Sydney northern beaches studio, was originally known as Tsubi.

It was sued by US shoe label Tsubo for trademark infringement when it started to expand globally.

Tsubo argued that sharing the first four letters of its name was a breach of its trademark, which was established in 1998 and was registered in Australia in March 2000, two years before Tsubi.

The matter was eventually settled out of court and Tsubi became Ksubi – with a silent K – worldwide.

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