Edie Parker Sues Milly by Michelle Smith Over Lookalike Bags

The Fashion Law Exclusive - Edie Parker, the celebrated brand responsible for the vintage-inspired clutches that you have been seeing on just about every major red carpet and in street style photos at the various fashion weeks, has filed suit against Milly, the New York-based brand launched by designer Michelle Smith in 2001. According to Edie Parker’s complaint, which was filed late last week in the Southern District of New York, “Defendant [Milly] is also a seller of ladies’ handbags, among other products. But rather than create and market its own designs, it sells handbags that parasitically copy Edie Parker’s protected handbag trade dress design.”

The designs at issue, which are the creations of Edie Parker founder Brett Heyman: $1,000+ box clutches that often bear graphics, such as “Karma”, “Happy”, “Hello”, and “Bride.” There are various striped, glitter and animal-print versions, and personalized ones, which have been particularly popular among the fashion crowd. Milly’s box clutches, which retail for $295, read: “Party”, “Boss”, and “Slay”, and also consist of striped, geometric, and animal-print versions.

Edie Parker’s complaint alleges: “Edie Parker handbags are individually designed and made in the United States from the highest quality materials by skilled American craftsmen. In contrast, the handbags sold and offered for sale by Defendant are of inferior quality to genuine Edie Parker handbags and are produced in China, displaying inferior workmanship and inexpensive materials. The association of such products with Edie Parker tarnishes the Edie Parker brand and harms its reputation for fine quality products.”

Edie Parker bags (left) & Milly bags (right)

Edie Parker bags (left) & Milly bags (right)

In citing federal and common law trademark infringement, Edie Parker claims that its brand “has been recognized on numerous occasions by the fashion press for the unique and fashionable styling, design and high quality of its products,” and has garnered fans that include Gwyneth Paltrow, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and just about every major editor and street style star.

With this in mind, Edie Parker alleges that Milly “has sold and offered for sale handbags that reproduce, copy and imitate the Edie Parker Box Clutch Trade Dress in, in a manner that is confusingly similar to the distinctive trade dress of Edie Parker.” The trade dress for the Box Clutch is described as follows:

The overall shape of the bag is a rectangular box, which includes top and bottom portions, left and right side portions, and back and front portions. The top, bottom, left and right side portions are comprised of two parts. The top, bottom, front, and back portions are longer horizontally than vertically, and the side portions are longer vertically than in depth; the edges of the bag are rounded; the bag is made of a rigid plastic looking material; the bag opens at the top, with the rectangular box separating into front and back parts, the separation occurring along a plane parallel to the front and back portions of the bag when in closed spatial relationship with each other; the front and back parts are maintained in closed spatial relationship with each other by a closure device positioned at the top portion of the bag; etc. 

Edie Parker bags (left) & Milly bags (right)

Edie Parker bags (left) & Milly bags (right)

Despite various correspondences from Edie Parker alerting Milly of its intellectual property rights, Milly continues to market and sell the infringing designs “in its boutiques and on its website, ladies handbags that bear designs that are confusingly similar to those of Edie Parker, and which have in fact caused actual confusion among fashion conscious consumers.”

As such, Edie Parker, which has been the subject of a wide array of copying since its launch in 2010, wants the court to order Milly to immediately and permanently cease marketing and selling the bags at issue and to award Edie Parker damages that include statutory and punitive damages, as well as interest and various other fees.