Here is a lawsuit you do not see every day. Forever 21 has filed suit, accusing multiple other retailers of copying its designs. That is right; according to its complaint, which was filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California, the Los Angeles-based fast-fashion giant, claims that California corporations, C Luce (doing business as “TCEC”), and Cornerstone Apparel (doing business as “Papaya Clothing”), along with a number of other parties, (collectively, “the defendants”) copied one of its “original designs.”
The design at issue is a pair of Ikat printed harem pants (pictured below), which were “designed by Forever 21 in-house” and the pattern for which has been protected by a federal copyright registration since 2013. According to Forever 21’s copyright infringement lawsuit, “in light of the success of Forever 21 and [its] clothing, as well as the reputation [it] has gained, Forever 21 and its products have become targets for unscrupulous individuals and entities who wish to unlawfully imitate forever 21’s copyrighted styles and designs.”
Accordingly, the fast fashion retailer claims that the defendants “intentionally and knowingly” reproduced products that embodied “colorable imitations of Forever 21’s design.” The defendants not only knew of Forever 21’s exclusive ownership in the design, they also “failed to obtain consent or authorization [from Forever 21] to utilize, manufacture, reproduce, copy, display, derive, commercially distribute or market in commerce” its protected design.
In case the irony of this lawsuit is just not striking enough, Forever 21 – which has been sued upwards of 50 times over the past several years for copyright infringement, among other claims – alleges, “Forever 21 designs and sells, innovative, fashionable clothing … it has become well-known to consumers through its hard work, innovation and substantial investment in branding. As a result of its endeavors, Forever 21 has created and owns valuable intellectual properties in the form of trademarks and copyrights.”
The complaint goes on to state that Forever 21 has suffered, and will continue to suffer substantial damages to its business in the form of “destruction of trade, loss of income and profits, and dilution and destruction of the value of its rights,” unless the court orders the defendants from containing to offer such garments for sale and engaging in future acts of infringement.
Forever 21 has asked the court to order the destruction of all of the defendants’ infringing articles and to pay up all the profits they made from the sale of the infringing items, along with attorneys’ fees.
* The case is FOREVER 21, INC. v. C LUCE, INC., a California Corporation doing business as TCEC; et. al., 2:17-cv-00553 (C.D. Cal.).