Upcycling and Intellectual Property: Emerging Trademark Infringements in The Era of Sustainable Fashion

Awareness surrounding environmental issues has grown significantly in recent years, and consumers are realizing the profound impact of their choices on the planet. This enhanced consciousness extends to various aspects of our lives, including the clothes we wear. In response to this growing environmental concern, new ways to “consume” fashion have emerged, offering alternatives to simply purchasing new clothes and accessories. One of the most popular and effective alternatives is upcycling.

Although upcycling brings numerous environmental advantages, it can also give rise to a range of legal concerns, particularly when the materials involved are safeguarded by trademarks, copyrights, and various other forms of intellectual property (IP).

A recent article authored by Aylin Zeybek, Associate at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC, and which has been featured in the October edition of Great Britain-Cyprus Business Gazette, explores this topic in more detail, including the First Sale Doctrine of Trademark Law under Regulation (EU) 2017/100 and the EU case-law. At present, European Union trademark law does not offer a definitive solution to enable upcycling in all scenarios. As a result, upcyclers are advised to proceed cautiously and remain attentive to any intellectual property (IP) rights. While genuine attempts to foster a more sustainable world should be encouraged it remains crucial to strike a balance among trademark owners, existing or potential competitors within secondary markets, consumers, and society at large.

The full article can be found in the Great Britain – Cyprus Business Association e-newspaper here.

For more information, please contact Aylin Zeybek at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC.