Puma has been dealt yet another blow in its case against Forever 21. After losing the first round of proceedings in the lawsuit that it filed against Forever 21 in March for allegedly infringing its copyright, patent, and trademark rights in three of the footwear designs from its Fenty collection, Puma has been handed another unfavorable decision: The court will not force the fast fashion giant to pull the allegedly infringing footwear from its shelves.
In ruling on the preliminary injunction matter this week, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that Puma failed to meet its burden in demonstrating that such relief is warranted, and instead bases its claims on “unsupported and largely speculative assertions of harm.”
According to Gutierrez, “Other than some exhibits containing website printouts and news articles concerning Forever 21, Puma submits no additional evidence of harm. He further stated, “Puma has adduced no evidence that its brand value has been diminished or that monetary damages are insufficient.” (Note: In seeking a preliminary injunction, Puma was arguing that money damages – which it is also seeking – are not enough, as it is allegedly suffering “irreparable harm” as we speak due to Forever 21’s continued sale of the footwear at issue).
The move comes after Gutierrez refused to grant the German sportswear giant's temporary restraining order, which would have provided a more immediate bar against Forever 21 continuing to sell the allegedly infringing shoes. A preliminary injunction was, therefore, a last-ditch effort, so to speak, for which Puma had to wait two months.
Interestingly, the potential implications of the court’s most recent decision are not just limited to the case at hand. Skechers – which was sued by adidas in September 2015 for allegedly selling several "knock-offs" of adidas designs, including but not limited to one that is a bit too similar to its classic Stan Smith – is seeking to benefit from adidas’ recent loss.
In its own fight against an adidas-requested preliminary injunction before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Skechers’ counsel has taken it upon themselves to bring the recent ruling in the Puma v. Forever 21 case to the attention of the Appeals Court. Skechers’ counsel drafted a letter to the court “to bring to the Court's attention a recent decision in the Central District of California denying a preliminary injunction on facts materially indistinguishable from the facts of this case.”
UPDATED (7/6/2017): Puma has filed to appeal the court's preliminary injunction holding, in hopes of getting the court to order Forever 21 to immediately remove the infringing footwear from its stock.