Oops, they did it again and again and again! Could this be their undoing? It would appear Forever 21’s business model is that of bold and defiant stealing. Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui and Gwen Stefani who are suing the flash-fashion
retailer for copying their designs, are not alone.
According to an article in today’s WWD "Retailer Forever 21 Facing a Slue of Design Lawsuits" by Liza Casabona, there
are at least 20 lawsuits alleging Forever 21 violated intellectual
Since January 2006 other designers and retailers who have filed suits against Forever 21 for
allegedly selling clothing and accessories that infringe their
copyrights and trademarks include; Tokidoki, Bebe and Anthropologie.
"I believe that Forever 21’s business model is to
copy the designs of other well-known designers," said Marya Lenn Yee, a
partner at law firm Donovan & Yee that represents Anna Sui in
pending litigation against Forever 21. The
number of filed cases is just the tip of the iceberg, Yee said. There
are other intellectual property claims that haven’t been filed because
they were settled or other issues arose.
When DVF originally took action, Forever 21 claimed it was taking steps to organize
itself to prevent intellectual property violations from happening. However, since then, DVF has found additional products they alleged
infringe on their designs!
Forever 21 does
not employ its own design team, and therefore can hide behind and place blame on its vendors. Just as in the DVF lawsuit, the majority of the cases filed allege copyright
infringement for print fabrics.
Copyright infringements can be
easier to prosecute than trade dress infringements or some trademark
infringements if the designers have registered copyrights, lawyers said. Under
copyright law, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the infringing
items create confusion in the minds of consumers.
Therefore, it crucial for designers and fabric companies to register their fabric
designs for copyright protection, Yee said. It’s a simple process that
can give them real teeth in fights to protect designs down the road.
Damages in some cases run into the millions, she said.
Sounds pretty shady.