The legal headaches continue to pile up for Forever 21, with a new copyright and trade dress infringement suit filed against it by Express last week.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Express claims Forever 21 copied four of its copyrighted plaid patterns for men’s shorts that were introduced in its stores in December 2007. Additionally, Express is claiming trade dress infringement for a zippered jacket the specialty retailer introduced last December.
Under U.S. law, only original prints or original graphics on clothes can by copyrighted, not a garment’s overall design. Trade dress refers to the overall look of a product that connects it to a particular brand in consumers’ minds.
Forever 21 has been sued over 50 times in the past seven years for alleged intellectual property violations by competing retailers and designer labels. It has settled almost all of those cases out of court, but last month a case brought against it by California-based Trovata went to jury trial, ending in a hung jury. According to attorneys at New York-based Colucci & Umans, which represented Trovata, a lone holdout juror sided with Forever 21 in that case. A new trial is tentatively set for Oct. 13 in U.S. district court in Santa Ana, Calif.
Colucci & Umans is also representing Express in the most recent case against Forever 21. The complaint was received by Young Kwon, in-house counsel for Los Angeles-based Forever 21.
Forever 21 owners Jin Sook Chang and Do Won Chang are named as co-defendants in the Express case. When Jin Sook Chang took to the witness stand last month in the Trovata trial, she said the company had to trust the vendors and manufacturers, which supply it with thousands of designs.
“Sometimes we purchase an item and then we request the vendor to change the design to make them attractive,” Chang said. “When the fabric is good, then we ask them to find that particular fabric for us.”
Chang emphasized there has been continuing training at Forever 21 for the last four or five years to alert members of the buying team to items that might present legal issues.
Forever 21 operates 450 stores worldwide, and expects to post 2009 sales of $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion.
Express is owned by San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm that acquired the brand from The Limited in 2007. The company operates more than 550 stores in the U.S., with total annual sales of more than $1.8 billion.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty