In light of the opening to Nasty Gal's first brick and mortar store, we take a look back at one of the many egregious copies that retailer has offered for sale in recent years. Remember that time Nasty Gal sold a spot-on copy of Givenchy's Rottweiler Antigona tote? (See Givenchy's bag, above left, and the Nasty Gal copy, above right). You can reacquaint yourself with Nasty Gal's devious ways and brush up on the legality of the situation at the same time. This article was originally published in April 2013 ...
In case you weren't sure just how nasty online retailer Nasty Gal is, here's a hint. Quite often we see fast fashion retailers selling copies of high fashion garments and accessories because design piracy is a perfectly legal practice in the United States (for the most part). However, one tactic that's definitely not legal is copying an image that appears on another brand's wares and putting it on your own. Case in point: Nasty Gal's "Vicious tote." Unlike plain old design piracy (for which there is very little protection available via copyright law), there is protection for pictorial, sculptural and graphic works under U.S. copyright law. Nasty Gal's insanely blatant imitation of Givenchy's super-popular Rottweiler design is a perfect example.
The Rottweiler print debuted in Givenchy’s Fall/Winter 2011 menswear show, and assuming that it is an original print (the bar for originality is low) owned by Givenchy, it is automatically protectable by law. Because the image is "separable" from the bag, t-shirt or sweatshirt, etc. on which it appears (aka the t-shirt or bag can exist without the image and the image can exist without the t-shirt or bag), it is classified as a Pictorial, Sculptural and Graphic work - a term of art in copyright law.
Update: And Nasty Gal must have received a cease and desist from Givenchy because the bag is nowhere to be found on its site.