The Fashion Law EXCLUSIVE - Brothers Brian Lichtenberg and Chris Lichtenberg are involved in what is sure to be a bitter legal battle over the "BALLIN in PARIS" design that both stock under their respective brand names. Brian Lichtenberg (who recently released a collection designer drug tees) filed a lawsuit against his brother, Christopher Walter Lichtenberg (hereinafter "CWL"), who is the designer behind Los Angeles-based label Alex & Chloe, for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and defamation, among claims. According to Brian Lichtenberg's complaint, which was filed on September 17th in a Los Angeles federal court, Brian's designs often include designer parodies depicted on "uniquely designed shirts" (think: "the unique stitching, placement of the labels, and fabric"). Brian Lichtenberg (via counsel, David Graziani) goes on the set the stage of the case, which involves quite a back story.
According to Brian, "By the spring of 2012, CWL was a failed fashion and jewelry designer overshadowed by the financial and creative success of Brian Lichtenberg, his older brother, in the same industry." At this point, Brian Lichtenberg claims that he arranged for his brother's Alex & Chloe website to sell some of his products under a consignment arrangement and for CWL to do some "part-time contractor" work for the Brian Lichtenberg label. Brian Lichtenberg alleges that his brother, CWL, worked on the BALLIN design with him. Brian asserts that he hand-sketched the BALLIN design in his day planner on Jan. 30, 2013 after he was inspired by a conversation with rapper Kanye West and provided CWL with a sketch of the design.
CWL then reportedly took the concept and created an electronic version of the design for Brian. At this point, Brian alleges that CWL "proceeded to use such purloined information to enable his company, [Alex & Chloe], to take T-shirts and sweatshirts using the 'Ballin' and 'Ballin Paris' parody name to the market before [Brian Lichtenberg]." CWL then allegedly began representing that he came up with the original "BALLIN" design. Brian claims his brother also copied his company's confidential customer list; and contacted the manufacturer responsible for making Brian Lichtenberg products and requested that he manufacture products identical to Brian Lichtenberg's products.
Moreover, CWL allegedly interfered with Brian Lichtenberg's ongoing business relationships and contracts with at least 10 different companies. The complaint states: "Over the course of CWL's employment by [Brian Lichtenberg] CWL purposefully and with the intent to defraud, slowed down the launch of the clothing line, 'BALLIN PARIS', by claiming to be sick and not able to finish his assignments when in fact he was stealing Brian Lichtenberg's designs the entire time he was employed by [Brian Lichtenberg]." And because that's not enough, Brian claims that CWL “continues to struggle with alcoholism, depression and various other psychological disorders, that have contributed to Christopher’s actions which have given rise to the causes of action set forth in this Complaint.”
Lichtenberg is seeking injunction relief (which would require CWL and Alex & Chloe immediately and permanently cease use of Brian's designs and marks) and punitive damages. See some of the exhibits from Lichtenberg's lawsuit below ...