There is no doubt that Ralph Lauren has had a tremendous influence on American fashion. The New York Times reported that Al Roker, the weather anchor on the “Today” show on NBC, referred to Lauren as “America’s arbiter of taste and culture.” So how does the iconic designer continue to reinvent his classic and comfortable luxury brand?
According to him, “You copy. Forty-five years of copying, that’s why I’m here.”
In recent months, several fashion retailers glamorized the idea of girls being bad at math. Unfortunately, as Jezebel reports, “girls are really, really, really, dumb” may even be a trend. Freedom of speech may open the door for offensive comments, but The Tetris Company, (“Tetris”) the creator of the famous geometric game will not stand to be associated with any of the sort.
Earlier this summer, retail giant Forever 21, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rachel Kane, blogger behind the satirical site WTForever21.com. WTForever 21 pokes fun at Forever 21 for making “ugly” clothing. On her blog, Kane refers to feathered accessories as “discount cat toys” and jokes that a “jumpsuit” purchase is an indication that “you need to sort your life out IMMEDIATELY”
The retailer accused Kane of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution. Jerry Hoh, Forever 21’s in-house counsel wrote, “While Forever 21 appreciates Kane’s indicated patronage of the store, her website’s name refers to an abbreviation for colloquial expression that the general public may find offensive, and such colloquial expression is being used in conjunction with our Company’s name, registered trademark, and domain name.” Forever 21 threatened that if Kane does not delete the blog by May 2, 2011, they will formally file a lawsuit.
Anyone who reads anything related to fashion, it’s legal issues or not, can likely imagine what a kind of legal team Forever 21 employs. The retail giant has defended their fair share of claims made against them for copyright infringement. To some they have become synonymous with the term “knock-off”. They have mastered the practice of taking styles off of the runway and have similar styles in their stores for only a fraction of the designer price. Most of their cases have settled. Some argue that fashion is a cycle and that imitation is the greatest form of flattery; and yet, others are fighting for greater protection of their creative designs.
It seems now that Forever 21′ s lawyers will have their turn on the other side of a lawsuit. They are threatening to take legal action against the creator of the blog WTForever21.com. They are claiming trademark infringement and defamation among other claims. Forever 21’s trademarked name is registered and is known by consumers as “trendy clothes at low prices”. The blog seems to question Forever 21’s quality and styles. Forever 21 does not want their trademark to be mistaken to have anything to do with the blog. The blog is not endorsed or supported by the retailer.
The current issue arose after Forever 21 sent the creator of the blog a cease and desist letter to discontinue using the registered trademark; this is a common practice in the fashion industry. Rachel Kane, the creator of the blog responded by adding a disclaimer to her site. This wasn’t enough for Forever 21; they would prefer to see the complete removal/termination of the blog. The popularity of fashion blogs is overwhelming. Many bloggers give readers an inside look to their styles and offer their opinions on all things fashion. The blogs according to their authors are outlets of their right to free speech.
The remaining question now is, “how far is too far for these fashion companies?” Most blogs give fashion companies “free publicity”, despite the fact that they are potentially infringing upon the intellectual property of the company.
Stay tuned to see how this will end and what the future of WTForever21 will be.
I found this picture while browsing through a few of my favorite fashion blogs. Everyone likes a good deal, and let’s be honest, how many law students can afford a new pair of Louboutins? At the same time, are fashion bloggers sending the wrong message? The Fashion Law Blog published by Fox Rothschild LLP, recently posted a piece on Forever 21 and the bad wrap they get for their merchandise. He mentioned this Business Week story that describes how Forever 21 makes knock off copies of other brand’s clothing and shoe designs. Illegal? Not yet. But some people do not take very kindly to stores such as these. Susan Scafidi, director of the Fordham Fashion Law Institute, thinks Forever 21 “looks a bit like a crime scene, with the chalk outline of the garments they’re copying.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Forever 21 fan, but I also want stores such as Christian Louboutin to stay in business. It will be interesting to see how these stores adapt after a Fashion Copyright Bill is finally passed. Will there be more brands such as Lanvin for H&M and Rogue for Target or less? Staci Riordan from Fox Rothschild thinks all designers are inspired by the works of another and Forever 21 should be congratulated for their success. Pretty strong arguments on both sides. What do you think?
Forever 21 continues to remain in the spotlight. The company has been known for selling knock-offs, and has been sued dozens of times by designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani, and Trovata. Apparently, Forever 21 hasn’t learned its lesson. According to today’s posting in Racked.com, Forever 21 is selling shoes with a logo on the insole of the shoe that looks similarly close to the YSL logo. Forever 21 has been selling shoes with this insole for quite some time now. Some are just starting to realize.
The comparison can be seen in the photo to the left:
Today, Women’s Wear Daily reported that the well known store Forever 21 has won its case against Express. Express sued the store for copyright infringement of four plaid designs used for men’s shorts. The judge said that the plaid design lacked “sufficient original creativity” to qualify for copyright protection. A key discovery in the case was the testimony of Express designer who said that the plaid patterns were based on pre-existing patterns, and were re-done by a CAD designer. This information was left out of the application for the Copyright registration.
Forever 21 has been sued over 50 times for alleged intellectual property violations, most cases have been settled out of court.
This makes me think of my internship at Perry Ellis, as the intern I was working on a large copyright project.
Express had sued Forever 21 in California claiming that Forever 21 had infringed on the copyright of Express’s men’s plaid pants. WWD reportedthat Forever 21 has won its case in a summary judgment, because they were based on pre-existing plaid designs. The issue in this case was originality – an essential element of copyright.
What does that mean for Burberry’s plaid? Burberry’s famous plaid may seem unoriginal and unexpressive. For those of you who feel that way, Burberry designers won’t be too offended. The famous plaid design is protected by trademark law, not copyright, and has been trademarked in black and white to claim any number of color combinations of different background and line colors. Burberry counsels are really smart for registering that mark because being a trademark means that it will be protected forever.
Well, if you’re looking for a job in fashion law, there’s a good chance Forever 21 is looking for more lawyers since they’re always getting sued. Of the numerous infringement lawsuits that have hit the fast fashion retailer, none held more promise than the federal law suit filed by hip California label Trovata.