THE FASHION LAW EXCLUSIVE – Marc Jacobs’ Resort 2017 collection was “unfortunately … not original,” according to a new lawsuit. The LVMH-owned brand was just slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit, which claims the brand “intentionally and knowingly” copied the original pin and patch designs of a handful of independent artists for the pre-season collection that the New York-based brand released in June 2016.
According to the lawsuit – which was filed on Tuesday in federal court in New York by Laser Kitten, LLC, Katie Thierjung, and Wildflower + Co., Inc. – Marc Jacobs “released its Resort 2017 collection, which featured a 1980s-90s nostalgia theme [and] centered around pins and patches. The Resort 2017 collection featured enamel pins and embroidered patches on everything from jackets and jeans to bags and shoes.”
The problem, according to the plaintiffs’ complaint? “A number of the featured pins and patches were flagrant, unlawful copies of [their own] popular original pins and patches," which are protected by copyright law.
The plaintiffs assert that despite sending Marc Jacobs, “one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world,” a cease and desist letter in January 2017 calling attention to the allegedly infringing designs – including Wildflower’s Rose Champagne Patch, Laser Kitten’s LK City Pink Cop Car Pin, and Katie Thierjung’s Parrot, Highball, and Margarita pins – the brand “continued marketing and selling its Resort 2017 collection unabated.”
Moreover, the plaitniffs allege that “Marc Jacobs even proceeded to create numerous additional infringing products, which it incorporated into its Spring 2017 collection, a successor to the Resort 2017 collection” and sold by way of retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Zappos, and Nordstrom.
The artists – who argue that they derive their “primary source of income” by “creating and selling enamel pins, embroidered patches, and other products of their own original designs, and … routinely licensing their designs to retailers” – that as recently as the filing of their complaint, they “are discovering new infringing products [from Marc Jacobs] and there may be even more infringing products of which [they] are not aware.”
In addition to monetary damages of “$25,000 per violation” and a disgorgement of profits that Marc Jacobs has earned from selling the allegedly infringing pins and patches, the plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, which would immediately and permanently bar Marc Jacobs from marketing and selling products at issue.
The plaintiffs’ counsel opted not to comment, whereas representatives for Marc Jacobs were not immediately available for comment.
The suit against Jacobs comes after a handful of independent artists called out Zara for allegedly copying an array of their original pins and patches in July 2016. In that instance, Zara responded by claiming that the designs at issue – which included pins in the share of erasers, banner that read "Girls," and heart-shaped lollipops, among others – were "too simple" for the artists to protect. As for whether Jacobs' legal team will make a similar argument is yet to be seen.