As the Trovata
vs. Forever 21 trial for intellectual property rights infringement gets under way in federal court, the case is not as clear cut as-and-dry as one might expect. Trovata alleges Forever 21 knowingly copied its clothing,
and the cheap-chic retailer is arguing that the disputed designs are not
unique to Trovata or protected under the law.
According to WWD, Forever 21’s attorneys acknowledge that the designs are
similar, but maintain the similarity does not constitute an
infringement, contending that in most cases Trovata’s claims are
limited to uses of buttons and other relatively common materials. The
lawsuit is “an attempt to come up with a back-door patent or back-door
copyright,” said lawyer Bruce Brunda, who is representing Forever 21.
based in Newport Beach, Calif., alleges that Forever 21 produced and sold
near-identical knockoffs of pieces worn on the runway or published in
magazines — in one instance with labels inside a hoodie that were
unique to Trovata. The suit covers seven Trovata pieces, including cardigans, hoodies, shirts and a jacket from fall 2005 to early 2006.
copyright laws do not protect the basic design, silhouette or form of a
garment. Under existing law, only original artwork, such as graphics or
prints, on clothing can be copyrighted. This needs to be changed.
“This is very important to the fashion industry,”
Whitledge said. “So many designers have struggled
with this and can’t defend themselves. This is a long and expensive
Angeles-based Forever 21 has been sued around 50 times for copyright
violations in the recent years by companies such as Diane von
Furstenberg, Anna Sui, Anthropologie and Bebe. This is the first time
the chain has faced a jury trial.
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