Isabel Marant Wins Case Over "Stolen" Tribal Design

Isabel Marant has come out on top in a recent court battle centering on a native Mexican design. The designer was hauled into court by fellow French brand, Antik Batik, which alleged that it had secured intellectual property rights in the design and that Marant infringed them by including it in her Spring/Summer 2015 Etoile collection. However, Marant, who previously argued that it was not claiming any property rights in the design but that the designs were inspired by the village of Santa María in Mexico, has come out on top. According to a Paris civil court, neither party owns the design.

According to WWD, “The court not only upheld that the design came from the said village, but that Antik Batik couldn’t claim any property rights on it either.” Antik Batik has been ordered by the court to pay upwards of $3,000 to cover Marant’s legal fees

As for whether Marant is off the hook with the Tlahuitoltepec, the group of indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico, who reportedly created the original design, is another matter. Marant’s lawyer Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe says the design house, known for its cool French girl vibes and penchant for tribal influences, is “in close touch with the village and its authorities” and is “close to a resolution. Sources close the Tlahuitoltepec officials, however, paint an entirely different picture. According to one source:

The municipal authority of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec has invited the French designers to discuss the matter. Unfortunately, despite this invitation, extended in multiple ways, there has been no contact from Isabel Marant whatsoever. It is not at all clear what Mr. Felzenszwalbe means then by being ‘close to a resolution.’ It is all the more curious that Mr. Felzenszwalbe claims to be ‘in close touch with the village and its authorities.’ They are not.

Of the matter, Oaxaca's secretary for indigenous issues, Adelfo Regino Montes, previously said in a statement: "We are facing an obvious transgression of the Mixe people by companies who seek to rob them of their cultural heritage and intellectual property rights, recognised even by the United Nations." It seems Marant has one battle still left to fight.