Inside Licensing News and Notes, Apirl 9, 2018

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Executives:

Benjamin Grubbs, ex-YouTube, forms Next 10 Ventures incubator firm along with Paul Condolora, ex- Warner Bros… Martin Whitaker, ex-Mattel, named Managing Director of Simba Dickie Group’s new Siso Toys UK subsidiary, effective May 1. The new subsidiary will focus on products and licensing for the UK market.

Contacts:

Next 10 Ventures, Benjamin Grubbs, CEO, partner@next10ventures.com

Simba Dickie Group/Siso Toys, Martin Whitaker, Managing Dir., +44  1274 765 030, sales@simbasmoby.com

 

Nine West Holdings Files for Bankruptcy, Proposes Selling Nine West Brand to ABG

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) agreed to buy the Nine West and Bandolino brands for $200 million, setting the floor as a stalking horse bid for the brands in Nine West Holdings’ bankruptcy reorganization plan, according to court documents.

The bid capped discussions between Nine West and ABG that began in January when ABG issued a letter-of-intent to buy the labels, Nine West said. Nine West had been seeking a buyer for its namesake brand since last fall, but those negotiations were sidelined as the company moved to restructure its loans, Nine West CEO Ralph Schipani said.

As part of the filing, Nine West, which owns such labels as Anne Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt, said it received $300 million in debtor-possession financing and had entered a restructuring agreement. The company missed a debt payment in March and will now focus on apparel, jeanswear and jewelry. Several stores also operate under the Nine West banner, but no bidders have emerged for them, Schipani said.

ABG’s offer would reunite the Nine West brand with the Jones New York label; both were once part of the Jones Apparel Group. Nine West posted $1.6 billion in revenue in 2017, but also had $1.6 billion in debt. In addition to a “challenging” retail market in the U.S., Nine West also suffered from quality issues with its footwear and handbags, Schipani said.

Contacts:

Authentic Brands Group, Jamie Salter, CEO, 212-760-2412, jsalter@abg-nyc.com

Nine West Holdings, Ralph Schipani, CEO, 212-642-3860

Levi Strauss Sues Kenzo for Trademark Infringement

Levi Strauss & Co.’s trademark infringement suit against LVMH’s Kenzo unit is the most recent in a series of legal battles it has waged in seeking to protect the folding cloth ribbon and colored tab on the pants pockets of its jeans.

In a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court, San Francisco, Levi Strauss said the latter’s “Britney Spears La Collection Memento No. 2” clothing line infringed its trademark, and that Kenzo didn’t respond to cease-and-desist letters it received in March. In recent months, the company has sued Vineyard Vines and two Chinese companies on similar grounds. Kenzo’s activities threaten to cause Levi Strauss to lose sales, suffer “incalculable and irreparable damage” to its goodwill, and confuse shoppers, the suit said.

Contact:

Levi Strauss & Co.,Harmit Singh, Chief Financial Officer, 415-501-6000

 

Jimi Hendrix Merchandise Coming to Market

Epic Rights and Perryscope Productions will launch a new Jimi Hendrix licensing program for Hendrix Experience at Licensing Expo in May. The initial focus for new licensees will be print-on-demand t-shirts as Epic seeks to bring new product to market by early summer. Existing Hendrix licensees include Biowold (caps and accessories) and Funko (Pop! Rocks vinyl figures).  Hendrix Experience has been seeking to expand its licensing business since settling in 2015 a long-running legal battle that pitted the musician’s adopted sister, Janie, who has headed Experience Hendrix for more than 20 years against Jimi Hendrix’s younger brother, Leon, who formed Hendrix Licensing in 2009 to sell t-shirts and other merchandise. As part of the settlement, Hendrix Licensing was barred from selling items that infringed the estate’s trademarks.

Contact:

Epic Rights, Lisa Streff, EVP Global Licensing, 310-424-1908, lisa@epicrights.com

Experience Hendrix, Janie Hendrix, CEO, licensing@jimihendrix.com