Fashioning your future at CNM

By Tan Pakkee, Year 3, CNM

Hi Everyone,

My name is Pakkee, a third year Communications & New Media major.

I wish to share with you my passion ~ for Fashion!

I love fashion so much, I have been blogging about it for four years now. My blog, LIKE I GIVE A FROCK was set up in 2010 when I was still in army, for lack of a better thing to do with my weekends.

The thing that really drew me to the fashion industry was an interest in magazines and the wonderfully creative creatures they featured every month. The profiles of designers were what always attracted my attention because they revealed the thought processes of some of the people who impact our lives so powerfully.

It helped that writing was something I’d always wanted to try my hand at, besides writing GP (that’s General Paper, for those not from the Cambridge A Level system) essays.

My blog was the natural result of my two loves combined.

Back in 2010, Singaporean designers, with the exception of a few like hansel and al&alicia, weren’t getting a lot of attention. So I thought that putting the focus of the blog on Singaporean designers would really give them a platform to showcase their collections. Coincidentally, the organizers of the Audi Fashion Festival started a new project that year to bring designers from all over the region for a tradeshow called BLUEPRINT. I bought tickets to go have a look, and met the most wonderful designers that I still keep in touch with till today. I have no idea what possessed me, but I went up to each and every local designer at BLUEPRINT and introduced myself and explained the ethos of my blog. This paid off in some instances and failed miserably in others but it was such a thrilling experience that I have been going back for BLUEPRINT ever since. Another local initiative to support local designers has also been instrumental as well – Parco Next NEXT, an incubator project that supports and mentors young designers, has also been a great help in identifying talents and putting me in touch some of the best creative minds in the design scene. So I was really lucky to have these two great projects come about at the right time!

Before this thing called university life started, my weekly routine would be to do research on which local labels were on my radar, reach out to the designer through email and then try to set up an interview. Again, BLUEPRINT was a huge help as it put me in touch with so many different designers that all I had to do was dig up their name cards. The process of interviewing a designer is just an awesome experience. You get to see what is going in the minds of designers as they walk you through the collection and you get to understand how they conceptualized the collection. For me, this has got to be the best part about being a fashion blogger.

It has taken some time, but I’ve slowly grown my blog and I now have a modest following online – it always comes as a surprise when someone tells me, “Oh! I’ve read your blog!” or “I’m a fan of your blog!” so it does take some getting used to. The content of my blog has evolved over the years as well, I now include more event coverage and some of the bigger brands like H&M and Club 21 have been inviting me to have a look their seasonal collections. It’s such a treat to get these sneak previews before the clothes get hung in the stores.

It is really exciting to major in CNM at this time if you’re looking to do something in digital in the near future. The theories and grounding that the department gives you in media research and communication management are so relevant. I’ve taken modules on social media (NM2203) and media writing (NM2220) and I can say that the writing and PR modules do go a long way in this line. When I graduate in 2015, I’m certain that the knowledge I’ve gained while in CNM will put me in good stead.

Pakkee (in shades, third from the left) Sitting front row at the Audi Fashion Festival in 2011


HONFab Lab’s visit to CNM inspires grassroots level design

Waag Society 2013

This bamboo knee prosthetic may not look anything like the commercial ones, but it is fully functional and easily adjustable. Most of all, it costs just under US$50.

Fairphone 2013


Hailed as the “Fair Phone”, this inconspicuous smart-phone is the creation of makers who seek to eliminate unfair trade practices in the supply chains of the mobile phone industry.

These prototypes are just two births out of the many on-going initiatives that our guest visitors shared with us two weeks ago for the NM5209 Interactive Media Art module, a graduate level seminar taught by Dr. Anne-Marie Schleiner. In a small-scale workshop, more commonly known to designers as a Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab), these creations were produced at the HONFablab in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The FabLab is a small-scale workshop offering digital fabrication. It is generally equipped with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials. This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.

Started in the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the FabLab programme is a collaboration between the Grassroots Invention Group and the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at MIT, broadly exploring how the content of information relates to its physical representation and how a community can be empowered by technology at the grassroots level.

The HONFablab is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia run by the House of Natural Fiber (HONF) in Jogyakarta. Other than building innovations, the HONFablab is also dedicated to education and holds a number of workshops for communities. In particular, Indonesian co-founder, Irene Agrivine, organises hacking and open design workshops to empower young girls and women by sharing knowledge, skills and tools to alter kitchen equipment and appliances.

Our guests also shared with us how the HONFablab first began as they recounted the collaborations between Alex Schaub (FabLab Amsterdam), Deanna Herst (Crosslab Rotterdam) and HONF since the former two participated in the Yogyakarta International Media Art in 2008. Their passion and commitment to grassroots action and community involvement may have also tugged at a few heartstrings of those attending the seminar.

As technology continues to empower people to invent and innovate, many more professionals, enthusiasts and even amateurs are using their talents to drive changes in particularly, production, supply and design. The culture of DIY (do-it-yourself) is also becoming more common at the ground level as design undergoes a revolution today in many developed countries.

All of which gets every one thinking and asking – why and should design ever be exclusive?


By Tay Li Hui


What companies need to know to protect their brands

CNM’s intellectual property and copyrights guru, Elizabeth V. Cardoza, recently added another feather to her cap with her contribution to the 2013 edition of International Trademark Dilution . We speak with Elizabeth to find out more about the latest development in trademark dilution and seek her counsel on what the dilution law is about and how it may affect communication practitioners and researchers.

You have contributed a chapter to the book, “International Trademark Dilution”.  What was that chapter about?
The new publication International Trademark Dilution traces the origins and history of trademark dilution in the U.S. and Europe and guides industry players through a gamut of legal requirements in several other countries, including Asian countries like Japan, China and Singapore My chapter sets out the Singapore position.

As we know, a brand serves as a badge of quality and source indicator of the product marketed by the brand owner. A superlative brand is one that is distinctive. The prudent businessperson in developing a new brand (X) wants to avert unnecessary business risk.  Indeed who would invest research, development or marketing costs into a new brand X if another person or organization in the marketplace could claim superior legal rights to XX, an earlier-existing identical or similar business identifier?

The hallmark test in trademark law to show infringement is the “confusing similarity” test.  The question to consider is whether the consuming public is confused between the new brand X and the earlier-existing one XX.  Consumers can actually be confused in a range of ways.  First, there can be marketplace confusion between the separate products marketed under X and XX; alternatively, the confusion may relate to the origin or source of the products, or it simply amounts to an affiliation or sponsorship issue, where consumers think that X is endorsed by XX.

What is the trademark dilution caveat that brand custodians in Singapore must pay attention to when developing a new brand or refreshing an existing one?
Under the new theory of dilution, a brand that is well known to the public at large in Singapore, one recognized by all or most sectors, is a powerful one. This genre of trademark need not rely on the traditional “confusing similarity” test to succeed in a claim against another brand owner that the latter’s use of his mark is infringing. The well-known mark owner will trump the other user regardless whether their products are competing or dissimilar. There is no need to show any likelihood of confusion (the tradition test of trademark infringement) by the general public. More significant is that the well-known mark need not be registered or even used in Singapore.

Take the example of two brands identified in recent local court cases as well known to the general public: CLINIQUE and NUTELLA.  Effectively, such a trademark is “diluted” in Singapore if any unauthorized use of an identical or similar mark by another trader unfairly tarnishes, blurs or free-rides on its goodwill.  The CLINIQUE case was against the owner of CLINIQUE SUISSE, while the NUTELLA case involved the use of NUTELLO by another mark owner.

The trademark dilution concept is also relevant to the brand owner who files a new local trademark application with the Trade Mark Registrar (the relevant authority under the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore).  Registration of the new mark can be refused on the basis that it conflicts with an earlier trade mark well-known to the public at large in Singapore.  There is no requirement of any likelihood of confusion by the public, and it is irrelevant whether the goods or services are identical, similar or dissimilar. As part of its battery of ammunition, the famous mark owner can also formally oppose the new application of the other party.

In short, the concept of trademark dilution adds another layer to the myriad business risks involved in creating a new brand.  The brand owner must now be alert to the hazards of any brand “well-known” to the general public. Armed with a basic understanding of the expansive prowess of well-known marks, brand consultants and other industry players can strive to effectively reduce the risk of conflicts in their choices on use of marks and other business identifiers.

What must a brand owner do to dispute a competitor’s misuse of its trademark?

One way the brand owner can claim well-known status is to tender proof of the extent to which the mark is used in Singapore and related promotional activities to the Court via sworn or survey evidence.

In the CLINIQUE case, the Court accepted evidence that some $3 million had been spent annually on advertising, promotion and marketing the mark in Singapore between 2004 and 2008.

In the NUTELLA case, the Court accepted affidavit evidence from the NUTELLA brand owner on the massive scope and extent of sales and wide local print media coverage in Singapore on the product in Singapore.

The surveys conducted by both parties showed that the local general public is familiar with all the NUTELLA marks, and the brand owner’s survey of 410 respondents indicated that some 89% were familiar with NUTELLA with 70% having known it for more than five years.  Of interesting significance to us is the Court’s emphasis on what it wanted to see in any survey.  Justice Chan Seng Onn had stressed that to have probative value, a survey must strive for accuracy in results, and this in turn, depended on the appropriateness of its design elements such as sample size and phrasing of survey questions.

The proprietor of NUTELLA obtained injunctive relief (a “stop” order by the Court) against the infringing use of NUTELLO by a local food and beverage café outlet. The Court accepted the NUTELLA mark would possibly lose its distinctiveness by the use of the other party’s sign NUTELLO on various goods.

In the same vein, the Court accepted there was dilution of the CLINIQUE brand, a mark registered here for a range of skin and body care products and for beauty consultation and treatment services.  It ruled that the resultant negative publicity in the marketplace against the other party, Clinique Suisse, for its lack of product quality assurance, might tarnish the stellar reputation of the products actually marketed under the well-established clinical guidelines of CLINIQUE’s founding dermatologists.  To trump the infringer, the owner of the well-known mark must show resultant loss or harm, such as detriment arising from the real risk of diversion of business to the other party, and the likely restriction on expansion of future use of the well-known mark.

You teach copyright and intellectual property in new media, guiding our students on the perils of copyright violations. What would you say are the important guidelines which our prospective communication practitioners and researchers must heed in ensuring that their organisations, products and services thrive in a knowledge intensive and IP-rich economy?

Our new media folks will find great value in using the updated readily-available reference materials and databases relating both to fundamental and cutting-edge issues in Intellectual Property (IP) on a website such as the World Intellectual Property Organization’s.

IP comprises several different rights including Copyright, Trademarks, Patents, Designs, Geographical Indications and Trade Secrets. Accordingly, communication practitioners and researchers need to fathom the basics of the current IP regulatory regime and the objectives and scope of each right, to avert conflicts and infringement claims.

In recent times, there are calls in the local media to dismantle, say, the copyright regime, on the premise that it stifles rather than encourages creativity. Any such activism must be premised on proper surveys conducted in the marketplace. This is where our social scientists stand head and shoulders above other disciplines including the law, as it is their research that garners evidence on identifiable societal concerns that emanate from the rigours of the regulatory regimes, whether just in Singapore or within the ASEAN region.

Tell us a little about yourself. What were you doing before you joined CNM? What brought you here to us?

I garnered my expertise in the IP field when I was a legal counsel in the public and private sectors, in Singapore and in the Silicon Valley of California. Today, I continue to keep abreast of developments in the field as a consultant and trainer.

I joined CNM as adjunct faculty to help with the Media and Communications Regulation module. Subsequently, under the guidance of Dr. Milagros Rivera, CNM’s former Head, we crafted a new module Copyright and New Media, correctly envisioning that it would be useful for our students. I grew to like teaching very much and sought to develop myself as a teacher. In 2010, I secured my Masters in Education from Penn State University. Come 2014, I shall be able to share with students my skills in public speaking.  To be able to combine all of one’s passions and experience in one’s profession is the most gratifying accomplishment. I am so fortunate to be able to do that at CNM. It has become one of the greatest joys in my life — to teach what I love, in a place I love.

CNM IP and copyrights guru, Elizabeth Cardoza explicates the intricacies of trademark law in her chapter on the enforcement of the trademark dilution law in Singapore