A self-described “ground breaking new player in the streetwear apparel industry” has been slapped with a very strongly-worded lawsuit for allegedly attempting to profit from the intellectual property of a huge slew of famous brands, including Champion. According to the trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit that Champion’s parent company Hanesbrands filed against Maxima Apparel Corp in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, Maxima Apparel is acting with “utter and total disregard” for Champion’s intellectual property in a “deliberate effort to trade on [Champion’s] fame and goodwill and to damage the valuable trademark rights.”
As Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Hanesbrands alleges, that New York-based streetwear entity Maxima Apparel’s own brand, Hudson Outwear, has taken to mimicking Champion’s trademark-protected “C” logo, which features a letter C partially filled in by two colored fields, and the brand's font, on “apparel that is expensive but of inferior quality.”
The widespread infringement by Hudson Outwear comes just as Champion, which has used its trademarks "continuously since the 1960’s, when it first launched the now-famous Champion athletic apparel," is experiencing its latest surge in popularity, helped by recent promotion "by a cross section of celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, the Kardashians, and the Jenners."
Hanes alleges that Hudson Outwear is marketing and offering for sale garments that are emblazoned with the words "Gangster,” “Chapo,” and “Stacks,” which make use of Champion’s “C” design and font as part of a larger “parasitic business model that trades off of the goodwill and prestige of famous brands, like the Champion brand, by distributing and selling apparel that blatantly infringes the trademarks that symbolize those brands to consumers.”
The athletic brand asserts that upon discovering that Hudson Outwear was selling the allegedly infringing products in June 2017, it notified the defendants of its objections, and the “defendants agreed to stop their infringing activities.” However, Hanes states, “Despite reassuring [Hanes] that they had stopped selling infringing apparel, the defendants continued to sell the infringing apparel and even expanded the scope of their sales and the number of infringing products.”
By making such “willful and malicious” use of Champion’s intellectual property, Maxima Apparel and Hudson Outwear are “taking a free ride on the reputation and goodwill that [Champion] has worked so hard to earn through their substantial investment of time, effort, and money.”
As a result, Hanes tells the court that the “defendants cannot be trusted to cease their infringement, unfair competition, and dilution on their own, but must be compelled to do so by this Court’s order.” Hanesbrand is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages from Maxima Apparel in connection with the allegedly infringing garments, as well as injunctive relief, which – if granted – would require Maxima Apparel to immediately and permanently cease all sales and promotion of any goods bearing Champion’s trademarks.
Hudson’s products – which also include garments that bear unauthorized versions of trademarks belonging to Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Versace, among others, as well as plays on Cartier, Goyard, Prada, Hermes, Balenciaga, Supreme, Thrasher, and Kenzo trademarks – come several years after a wave of so-called “parody” products flooded the fashion industry, leading to no shortage of cease and desist letters from brands and in some cases, litigation.
The similarity between Hudson's products and those of the trademark holders has not gone unnoticed by consumers. As one individual wrote on Instagram, "@Champion, sue them."
* The case is Hanesbrands Inc. et al v. Maxima Apparel Corp. et al, 1:18-cv-01344 (SDNY).