The Dsquared2 red tab on the fly…protected Trademark or not?

A photo seen on Instagram recently caught my attention: a lady wearing a pair of denim shorts which appeared at first sight to be made by Dsquared2, yet the caption credited another brand.

I had a look and I found out that a website was selling denim shorts under its own name (this is crucial: not trying to pass off as D2), with a design close to DSQ but very importantly, a red tab where you find the same on a pair of our favourite brand.

Note that I prefer not naming the website as I would feel like a WW2 collaborationist. Each brand will take up the fights they feel are worth taking. Note that some designers actually like plagiarism as they see it as flattering, others are merciless. 

Above and below: red tab…but not D2!

Being originally a lawyer, I couln’t help thinking about the legal aspects of it. Of course counterfeit goods are illegal and that’s fair. 

However here we are in a situation that is much closer to the lengthy battle between Louboutin and other designers over the right to sell shoes with a red sole.

The question here is: is a branded red tab sewn to the inside of the fly on denim bottoms CAPABLE of legal protection? In other words is it protected by the law of Trademarks and designs?

Note that the red tab with the brand name in white fonts is not a D2 invention, but probably a Levi’s Strauss one, copied and copied again for decades by a multitude of denim jeans makers. What the Canadian designers did differently to everyone else was to move it from the right back pocket to the front fly.


Therefore the question is even trickier: can the PLACE of a logo be protected by the law of Tradmarks?

Above and below: Dsquared2 red tab

Now of couse I cannot answer that and especially since every country has its own approach. This can be seen in the various Louboutin cases (in Belgium, France, Netherlands, USA…) all ending in different outcomes due to the lack of uniformity in Intellectual property law.


However I think a strong argument in favour of the protection is the following: is confusion POSSIBLE in the mind of an average consumer? We have to remember that IP law often boils down to this issue of people being tricked into buying something thinking they are buying something else.

And with that point of view I would say yes, the untrained eye could very well see the borrower as being the original. Even I, before taking a closee look, nearly got fooled. Me, he who cannot be fooled!

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3 comments

  1. At first: I am not a lawyer. But I think, if the item is a “look-alike”, the people get the first impression, its the original brand they desire. And that’s, what the manufacturer really intends. And thats justifiable, in my mind.

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    • Thanks for the comment Matthias! Yes you could be right. It’s hard to decide 100% one way or another. Although as a former lawyer i know that i could argue either way…depending who pays me 😉 Kind regards mate

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