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2017 Villanova Fashion Law Symposium


Navigating the Runway: A Closer Look at the Issues Facing the Fashion Law Industry

Friday, February 24, 2017

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law hosts the Third Annual Fashion Law Symposium, Navigating the Runway: A Closer Look at the Issues Facing the Fashion Law Industry. This year's event explores social media and the Internet, in-house fashion law, intellectual property issues, fashion mergers and acquisitions, and more.

Sponsored by the Fashion Law Society and the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship, this symposium brings together fashion experts and trendsetters in the industry, including Lee Sporn, Former Senior Vice President of Business Affairs, General Counsel, and Secretary of Michael Kors Holdings Limited; Susan Posen, Chair at House of Z LLC/Zac Posen; Julie Zerbo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Fashion Law; and more.

The Symposium takes place on Friday, February 24, 2017 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 101 of Villanova University School of Law (299 North Spring Mill Road, Villanova). This program is approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for 3 substantive CLE credits. 



Panels and Speakers

12 p.m. - 12:40 p.m. Panel I - The Latest Trends Affecting the Internet's Impact on the Fashion Industry

  • Natalie Newman (Vice President/Associate General Counsel, Michael Kors)
  • Matthew A. Homyk (Associate, Blank Rome) 

This panel will discuss the issues and challenges facing fashion companies as well as individual designers due to the growth of the Internet and social media. Topics will include: technology, E-Commerce, advertising, marketing, consumer protection, privacy and data security for a fashion company. In addition, this panel will address counseling a fashion client’s use of social media platforms. 

12:40 p.m. - 1:20 p.m. Lunch break 

1:20 - 2:00 p.m. - Panel II: Counseling the Creative: The Role of General Counsels in the Fashion Industry

  • Lee S. Sporn (Of Counsel, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP; Adjunct Professor, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law)
  • Susan S. Posen (Chair at House of Z LLC/Zac Posen)

Fashion companies strive constantly to create new designs and to drive business by expanding into new products and territories, and innovating new ways of exciting customers. This panel will focus on the role of general counsel in supporting the fashion company’s ambitions, while minimizing the risk of liability and navigating constantly evolving legal rights and obligations.

2:00 p.m. - 2:35 p.m. - Confronting Disclosure Issues Under the Federal Trade Commission Act

  • Julie Zerbo (Founder & Editor-in-Chief, The Fashion Law)
With the increase in non-traditional advertising methods, particularly in fashion, comes truth-in-advertising concerns. This panel will focus on the role of the Federal Trade Commission and its guidelines in connection with influencer endorsements and native advertising, including its actions to date and what implications they have for brand owners and influencers, alike. 

2:35 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - Panel III: Crimes of Fashion: The Law of Protecting Your Fashion Designs

The legal challenges facing fashion companies can be complex and extensive. This panel will focus on all of the issues relating specifically to intellectual property, including, but not limited to trademarks, patents, and counterfeiting. This panel will also explore the steps fashion companies take to combat the counterfeiting industry.

3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m. - The Anatomy of an M&A Transaction in the Fashion Industry
Mr. Peken will be discussing what goes into a merger and acquisition deal in the fashion industry and the different matters that need to be addressed throughout the process. 

Natalie Newman, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Michael Kors Holdings Limited

Natalie Newman is Vice Preisdent, Associate General Counsel at Michael Kors, in New York. At Michael Kors, Natalie is primarily responsible for all legal matters, on a global basis, relating to Technology, E-Commerce, Communications, Media, Advertising, Marketing, consumer protection, retail, privacy and data security. Prior to joining Michael Kors in 2012, Natalie was an Associate in the Privacy and Data Security and Technology, Media and Communications practice groups of the Corporate Department in the New York office of Proskauer. Natalie received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002, and her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2005.

Matthew A. Homyk, Associate, Blank Rome LLP

Matthew Homyk concentrates his practice in intellectual property matters and related business issues confronting companies and individuals in many industries, ranging from fashion, e-commerce, social networking, insurance, musical instruments, and building materials. He serves a wide range of clients in areas including social networking (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) legal issues; domestic and international trademark and copyright counseling; counterfeit products enforcement in the United States, China and India, including Chinese counterfeiting litigation counseling; patent prosecution and patent litigation; copyright registration; prosecution of trademark and service mark appliations; internet issues, domain name disputes, UDRP proceedings, and e-commerce issues; preparation and negotiation of technology transfer, assignment, and confidentiality agreements; domestic and international license agreements for networking, web analytics, and search engine optimization (SEO) to provide high-level Internet business counseling to clients in conjunction with traditional patent, trademark, and copyright services. Mr. Homyk is the Adjunct Professor of Trademark Law at Villanova University School of Law. He is also a member of the Law Firm Committee of the International Trademark Association ("INTA"). Prior to joining Blank Rome, Mr. Homyk interned for the General Counsel of The Barnes Foundation, an educational institution dedicated to appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture. 

Lee S. Sporn, Of Counsel, Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP; Adjunct Professor, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Sporn is Of Counsel with the NYC law firm Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP in its Intellectual Property Law practice, where he focuses on clients in the luxury goods, fashion and retail industries. He is an internationally renowned intellectual property and corporate lawyer and a leader in the fashion and retail law industry.  Mr. Sporn has over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, having recently retired as Senior Vice President - Business Affairs, General Counsel and Secretary of Michael Kors Holdings Limited, where he was at various times responsible for its legal, human resources, store design, construction and facilities departments.  Prior to joining Kors in 2003, he was the Senior Vice President, General Counsel at Kasper A.S.L., Ltd., then owner of the Anne Klein and Kasper brands, and prior to that Lee was at Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation for 11 years, where he served as Vice President, Intellectual Property and Associate General Counsel, responsible for worldwide intellectual property enforcement, licensing and a wide variety of commercial and compliance matters.  He was instrumental in the creation, and is the co-director, of the FAME Center (Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment) at Cardozo Law School, where he is a Professor from Practice.  Mr. Sporn is a contributor to Fashion Law, A Guide for Designers, Fashion Executives & Attorneys (Fairchild Books, 2014), and was the co-editor of the seminal treatise Trademark Counterfeiting (Aspen Law & Business, 1999).  Lee is a past Chairman of the International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition and served on its board of directors and executive committee for over a decade, and in May of 2016 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Luxury Law Awards in London.

Susan S. Posen, Chair, House of Z LLC/Zac Posen

Ms. Posen was for over 22 years (14 years as a partner) at the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York City, where she specialized in securities and other corporate transactions, with particular emphasis on media and communications companies. In 2001, Susan co-founded with her son, Zac Posen, his fashion company and continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of House of Z LLC. Ms. Posen also serves as a business consultant to emerging companies in the fashion and tech arenas. 

Julie Zerbo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Fashion Law

Julie Zerbo is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fashion Law, one of the leading authoritative sources dedicated to the field of fashion law and the business of fashion. She has been profiled by the Wall Street Journal, Reuter and NBC, and has been cited by publications including the New York Times, the New York Post, and Vogue publications worldwide, among others. She was named one of The 50 Fashion Social Media Voices to Follow by New York Magazine's The Cut. Julie authored a chapter and assisted in editing Fashion Law: A Guide for Designers, Fashion Executives, and Attorneys, a leading fashion law textbook in law schools in the U.S. She also exclusively pens the "WWD Law Review" column for Women's Wear Daily. She consistently speaks and guest lectures at industry events, educational institutions, and in various media formats on the topics of fashion, law, business, and pop culture. 

Heather J. McDonald, Partner, BakerHostetler

Having been involved in anticounterfeiting and other intellectual property (IP) enforcement litigations since the start of her career, Heather McDonald has a depth and breadth of knowledge that few other lawyers possess. Her knowledge and experience are on ample display every time she works with clients to develop creative solutions to their problems. Heather is known for her innovation and historical knowledge in the industry, as there is hardly an aspect of anticounterfeiting litigation that Heather has not previously addressed or encountered. She delves into whatever work is required of her and does not hesitate to take action for her clients, whether it lie in firsthand participation in seizures of counterfeit goods or lobbying for legislation to help them fight the battles they face.

Heather is named in the World Trademark Review's WTR 1000 – The World's Leading Trademark Professionals, where she is referred to by one client as a lawyer whose "… name alone strikes fear in the hearts of counterfeiters." She has received numerous awards from clients and law enforcement agencies for her service and commitment to protecting IP rights. Heather serves as the deputy litigation coordinator for the firm's New York office

Andrew M. Peken, Partner, Hand Baldachin Amburgey LLP

Andy is a Partner at Hand Baldachin & Amburgey LLP in New York.  Andy’s practice includes corporate and transactional matters across a wide range of industries and sectors, including fashion and lifestyle, sports and entertainment, and media and technology.  This includes mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, venture capital and private equity, family office, secured lending, outside general counsel and corporate advisory services.  Andy represents many fashion and lifestyle clients, including Rag & Bone, Steven Alan, Rebecca Minkoff, Cushnie et Ochs, Todd Snyder, Clark’s Botanicals, Plan de Ville and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.