In a legal coup for Anthropologie during its lawsuit against Forever 21, the fast-fashion chain’s founders, Do Won Chang and Jin Sook Chang, faced depositions this month. The husband-and-wife team, who own and run the $1.7 billion retailer, were deposed for full days on April 16 and 17 in the L.A. offices of Duane Morris LLP, which is representing Anthropologie in its claims that Forever 21 copied nine of its copyrighted garments.
This story first appeared in the April 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Forever 21 has been sued over 50 times for copyright infringement in the last three-and-a-half years, but its lawyers have successfully blocked attempted depositions of the Changs by settling the cases out of court or raising objections to their being deposed. In this case, however, Judge Michael Dolinger of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York compelled the depositions of the Changs, noting Do Won Chang is chief executive of the company and Jin Sook Chang is Forever 21’s head buyer — and documents indicated she was directly involved in the purchase of eight of the nine disputed garments.
This was the first time in about 10 years the Changs were successfully deposed in a lawsuit against Forever 21. The transcription and videotape of the deposition is sealed, but the judge could make portions public in a few weeks, according to Greg Gulia, an attorney with Duane Morris.
Frank Colucci, an attorney representing Trovata in a separate case against Forever 21, noted the videotapes would be “of great interest to a lot of people.” He plans to subpoena them in his own case, which is set to go to trial in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., on May 12. (It was previously scheduled for May 7 but was pushed back due to a conflict with another case the judge is hearing.)
During the depositions, the Changs requested the use of a Korean translator. They immigrated to the U.S. 28 years ago and have been running Forever 21 since 1984.