Image: Versace

Versace is taking on notorious copycat Fashion Nova for selling “deliberate copies and imitations of [its] most famous and recognizable designs, marks, symbols and other protected elements” – from its famed black and gold Barocco print to the “Jungle Print” dress that Jennifer Lopez made famous in 2000 – in an attempt to “exploit the popularity and renown of Versace’s signature designs, and to trade on [its] valuable goodwill and business reputation in order to drive profits and sales to line Fashion Nova’s pockets.”

According to the complaint that Versace filed in a California federal court on Monday, “Fashion Nova’s ability to churn out new clothing so quickly” – and so cheaply –  “is due in large part to its willingness to copy the copyrighted designs, trademarks and trade dress elements of well-known designers, and trade on their creative efforts in order to bolster [its own] bottom line.” The latest brand to fall victim to the brand’s willful infringement scheme? Versace.

The Milan-based fashion house asserts that “in blatant disregard of [its] rights,” Fashion Nova has “manufactured, marketed and sold apparel using the same or substantially similar copyrighted designs and confusingly similar trademarks and trade dress” without its authorization, giving rise to a likelihood that consumers might be confused into believing that Fashion Nova’s products are “manufactured or authorized by, or in some manner associated with, Versace,” when they are not, and more generally, causing significant damage to Versace’s  wildly valuable intellectual property rights.

To be exact, Versace claims that Fashion Nova copied its copyright-protected “Pop Hearts” and “Barocco – 57” prints and replicated them on its own wares in violation of federal copyright law. In furtherance of a larger practice of “willful” infringement, the Los Angeles-based fast fashion brand has made use of an array of Versace’s federally protected trademarks, including its various “Greca” link patterns, which are “among the most well-known designs in the fashion world, and instantly recognizable by consumers as signatures [of] Versace.”

Finally, Versace points to a dress from Fashion Nova’s Halloween collection, which is a dead ringer for the one that Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammy Awards in 2000. As one of the “most iconic dresses of all time,” Versace claims that consumers immediately associate it with a single source (Versace), thereby, giving rise to trade dress protections in the design, which consist of a “distinctive combination” of a “green tropical leaf and bamboo pattern, plunging neckline extending to the navel, high-cut leg slit, circular brooch where the plunging neckline meets the high-cut leg slit, and long, flowing sleeves.” Fashion Nova’s version of the dress copies each of these elements, per Versace.

(Trade dress is a subset of trademark law that provides protection for the overall image of a product, such as the color, shape, size, and/or configuration, as long as the design has the same source-identifying function as a traditional trademark, such as a logo or word mark.)

Still yet, Versace claims that Fashion Nova takes things a step further and “deceives unknowing consumers by using the Versace trademarks,” including the brand’s name, “without authorization within the content, text and/or meta tags of its website in order to attract various search engines crawling the Internet looking for websites relevant to consumer searches for Versace apparel.” Add to that, its “other unauthorized search engine optimization tactics and/or social media spamming,” which Versace claims that the company uses to ensure that “Fashion Nova webpages show up at or near the top of relevant search results and misdirect consumers searching for Versace apparel.”

Despite formally notifying Fashion Nova of its allegedly “infringing activities” on “multiple occasions before filing this lawsuit, including on or about July 26, 2019, September 20, 2019, October 1, 2019 and November 13, 2019,” Versace claims that the company has continued to use “designs that are substantially similar to the Versace copyrights, and confusingly similar to the Versace trademarks and trade dresses, in violation of Versace’s exclusive registered copyrights, registered trademarks, common law trademarks, and distinctive trade dresses.”

With the foregoing “unlawful acts” in mind, which have “irreparably harmed its brand and its extremely valuable goodwill among consumers,” Versace claims that Fashion Nova is on the hook for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and trade dress infringement, among other claims. Versace says that it is seeking monetary damages in a sum to be determined at trial, injunctive relief, and more generally, wants “to bring an end to Fashion Nova’s latest brazen attempt at copying the work of yet another famous and world-renowned designer.”

*The case is Gianni Versace S.r.l. v. Fashion Nova, Inc. 2:2019-cv-10074 (C.D.Cal.).