Fashion retail giant Forever 21 is being accused again of copying, this time by Word, a woman-owned branding agency based in Los Angeles. Word claims that Forever 21 copied their “Creator Shirt,” which features the word “woman” written in nine different languages.
Since Word posted about the similar design on Instagram, Forever 21 has taken down the shirt and released a statement that the product, bought from a third party source, did not have trademark or IP protections at the time of purchase. While no legal action by Word seems to be impending this time, Forever 21 has been facing other legal turmoil involving intellectual property rights.
Adidas recently brought action against Forever 21 in March for illegal use of its three-stripe trademark and breach of contract of a previous settlement agreement. Adidas is seeking monetary damages, disgorgement of profits from the merchandise in question, and enjoinment from future infringement. Forever 21 filed a counter-suit claiming that Adidas’ claim was unwarranted because virtually any item of clothing with any number of stripes would be an “infringement.” Forever 21 dropped the suit two weeks later.
Gucci similarly brought suit in August in United States District Court, Central District of California, against the store for allegedly infringing its trademark “blue-red-blue” and “green-red-green” stripes. The suit was in response to Forever 21’s claim against Gucci for threat of trademark litigation after receiving a wave of cease-and-desist letters. In their complaint, Forever 21 argued that Gucci alone should not have a monopoly over red and blue or red and green stripes.
Adidas America, Inc. et al v. Forever 21, Inc., case number 3:17-cv-00377 (D. Or.)
Ashley Haines, “Adidas is suing Forever 21 for using this stripe design,” Business Insider (Jul. 20, 2017), http://www.businessinsider.com/adidas-is-suing-forever-21-for-stripe-design-2017-7
Avery Matera, “Forever 21 Accused of Copying Planned Parenthood Benefit T-Shirt,” Teen Vogue (Sept. 16, 2017), https://www.teenvogue.com/story/forever-21-copyright-planned-parenthood-benefit-shirt-word-agency
Billy Donahue, “Gucci Says Forever 21 ‘Masquerades As A Victim’ in TM Row, Law 360 (Aug. 8, 2017), https://www.law360.com/articles/952399/gucci-says-forever-21-masquerades-as-a-victim-in-tm-row
Billy Donahue, “Forever 21 Says Adidas 3-Stripe TM Has ‘No Boundaries’”, Law 360 (Jun. 22, 2017), https://www.law360.com/articles/937638/forever-21-says-adidas-3-stripe-tm-has-no-boundaries-
Jenna Sauers, “How Forever 21 Keeps Getting Away With Designer Knockoffs,” Jezebel (Jul. 20, 2011), https://jezebel.com/5822762/how-forever-21-keeps-getting-away-with-designer-knockoffs
Forever 21, Inc. v. Gucci America, Inc. et al., case number 2:17-cv-04706 (C.D. Cal.)
Sarah Shannon, “Gucci Escalates Legal Battle with Forever 21,” Business of Fashion (August 8, 2017), https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/news-analysis/gucci-escalates-legal-battle-with-forever-21