THE FASHION LAW EXCLUSIVE - Here is a good one: Forever 21 has filed suit against another retailer for allegedly copying. In a wholly ironic lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, a federal court in Los Angeles, Forever 21 has accused Bastiat USA Inc., doing business as Brandy Melville, of copyright infringement.
According to Forever 21’s complaint, in May 2015, it became aware that fellow millennial-focused retailer Brandy Melville was “offering for sale and selling clothing items which embodied designs that wholly and completely copied Forever 21’s Design and which is protected by Forever 21’s [federal] Copyright [registration],” namely, Brandy Melville’s $29 red printed Abigail dress. The copyright registration at issue, which covers the design of a “Visual Material” and was granted to the retailer in November 2014, gives Forever 21 the exclusive right to use the copyrighted design, a red-based medallion print.
The complaint, which sets forth a single claim for copyright infringement, states: “Without permission, Defendants intentionally and knowingly reproduced, copied, displayed, manufactured, derived, and distributed products embodying colorable imitations of Forever 21’s Design.”
As evidenced by the 100+ copyright lawsuits that have been filed against Forever 21 over the past several years, Forever 21 is one of the fashion industry’s most notorious copycats, and yet, it notes in the complaint that it is largely being damaged here because it “designs and sells innovative, fashionable clothing, clothing and accessories and accessories exclusively through its online website www.Forever21.com and its own Forever 21 retail outlets throughout the United States and multiple international locations.” Moreover, the complaint alleges that “in light of the success of [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.”
As a result of the alleged copying, Forever 21, which has made headlines recently for reported financial difficulties, is seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief, which, if granted, would bar Melville from continuing to sell garments bearing Forever 21's copyright-protected prints.
Forever 21 did not respond to a request for comment.
* The case is FOREVER 21, INC. V. BASTIAT USA INC. ET AL, 2:16CV06211.