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August 16, 2018

Of Counsel

Stitching a niche: Lawyer Laura Ganoza's fashionable work

Attorney Laura Ganoza finds a way to meld her expertise in law with her love of fashion.

Art Levy | 2/26/2015

According to her bio on the Foley & Lardner website, attorney and partner Laura Ganoza specializes in complex commercial litigation, including “cross border disputes, trade secret and non-compete actions, as well as a variety of intellectual property litigation matters, including trademark, copyright and patent infringement matters.”

The bio says nothing about fashion — although maybe it should.

“On a personal level, I love fashion,” Ganoza says. “I love reading about it. I love reading Vogue. I’m a subscriber to Women’s Wear Daily. I love that whole area. I love dealing with creative types — I guess since I’m so not that and could never put a dress together. I just love the process of how fashion designers work.”

Now, thanks to Miami’s prominence in the fashion industry, Ganoza is getting the chance to mix fashion into her work. “Miami is kind of exploding in a lot of cultural senses,” she says. “Our design district is exploding and fashion designers are, too. I think Miami is a new ‘next place’ for fashion designers to make it their home and grow a business.”

In response, Foley has created a niche — “custom-made counseling for the Miami fashion industry” — that the firm says aims to “assist up-and-coming fashion designers navigate the complexities associated with launching a fashion label and expanding business operations.” As part of the initiative, Ganoza moderated a round-table discussion for designers last fall that covered what designers need to know about privacy issues and brand protection when creating an e-commerce fashion operation.

“Designers, I think, are an underserved community, at least in the legal sense,” Ganoza says. “They’re creative, and they focus on the creation of these beautiful garments and so then they need assistance on the business end of things.”

In particular, she says, designers need help protecting their brands, both in the United States and other countries. This is especially true for designers who manufacture clothing in China, which is a “first-to-file” country.

“Before you launch in China, file your trademark first,” she says. “If you wait until after you launch, you might find that someone else has filed the trademark first. Don’t say you are going to deal with it when it happens. It might be too late. Or it might cost you a lot of money.”

Fashion Sense

After attending the Miami International University of Art & Design, Julian Chang went to work creating his own clothing line. “I hired a lawyer to help me to understand the basics of a new business,” he says. “It can be overwhelming, so it is best to take it from the very basics and progress as needed. My advice is to count on legal and financial advice from professionals and experienced people when possible.”

Chang’s clothes are sold in more than 2,000 boutiques worldwide and 92 in Florida. “As your business grows so do your legal responsibilities,” he says. “I love the business aspect, but I think as a creative individual it is not always natural, so you have to train yourself to read reports as we read Vogue every month.”

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