Image: Fashion Nova

The Fashion Law Exclusive — Fashion Nova might have a working relationship with some of the Kardashian/Jenners but that does not mean it had the right to use images of Kourtney Kardashian, among other celebrities, to promote its designer-inspired wares. That is what well-known paparazzi photo agency BackGrid is asserting in the lawsuit it filed on Thursday in a California federal court against Fashion Nova, which is on the hook for copyright infringement for “willfully” making use of BackGrid’s images of various celebrities without its authorization.

According to BackGrid’s complaint, it is in the business of licensing its copyright-protected photos of well-known celebrities to other outlets in furtherance of deals that are worth “up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Despite using BackGrid’s images of Kourtney Kardashian, Blac Chyna, Amber Rose, and 21 Savage on its site, BackGrid asserts that Fashion Nova never licensed or received its authorization, and instead, opted to simply “appropriate [the copyrighted images] for itself.”

BackGrid asserts that it first put California-based Fashion Nova on notice of infringement in October 2017, but that “Fashion Nova [not only] failed to resolve the infringement,” it has since posted more BackGrid-owned photos, thereby resulting in additional instances of copyright infringement.

This is all part of a larger scheme of infringement. On its website, Fashion Nova, “boasts that ‘Nova Style’ means ‘breaking the rules.’” This is not merely a sartorial reference, but as BackGrid claims, “apparently those ‘rules’ include those prohibiting infringement of others’ intellectual property rights.”

With the foregoing in mind, BackGrid is seeking an array of monetary damages, including actual damages and all profits Fashion Nova derived from its copyright infringement, as well as injunctive relief to immediately and permanently bar Fashion Nova from “permanently enjoined from copying, reproducing, displaying, promoting, advertising, distributing, or selling” BackGrid’s images. The photo agency has also asked the court to order Fashion Nova to “account for all profits, income, receipts or other benefits it derived from the unlawful reproduction, copying, display, promotion, distribution, or sale of products and services, or other media, that improperly or unlawfully infringe the asserted copyrights.”

The case comes in the immediate wake of allegations that Kim Kardashian has been working with Fashion Nova to help the fast fashion retailer create low-cost replicas of her designer wares. While Fashion Nova maintains relationships with other family members, including for sponsored social media endorsements, it has denied working in partnership with Kim Kardashian to copy her looks.

*The case is BackGrid USA, Inc. v. Fashion Nova, Inc., 2:19-cv-01476 (C.D.Cal).