After a years-long legal battle, the well-known Fred Segal signage on its original Melrose Avenue store is said to be finally coming down.
The Fred Segal brand, now owned by licensing agency Global Icons and its founder and chief executive officer Jeff Lotman, has officially won back full trademark rights to the name from CormackHill, the Canadian retail real estate investor that operates the Melrose Avenue collection of retail buildings.
With a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a fight between the parties that stretches back to 2016, the stylized red, white and blue signage alongside the now ivy-covered building at 8100 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles will be no more. The store was the first Fred Segal location, opened in 1961, but ceased to be an active Fred Segal in 2017, when the retailer moved to its current flagship location on Sunset Boulevard.
CormackHill is owned by brothers Lyndon and Jamie Cormack, who founded the brand Herschel Supply, along with Brian Hill, the founder and ceo of Aritzia. The company managed to keep the iconic signage up on the 29,000-square-foot building for the last few years, arguing that it had rights to it under the 2016 real estate purchase agreement.
But Ninth Circuit, the highest federal court in California, decided otherwise. Namely because the original purchase agreement CormackHill purported to absorb said specifically that any rights to the Fred Segal name stretched only to the family of Bud Brown, a friend of Fred Segal the man, whom he first sold the property to in 2001.
“The license agreement grants the licensee the right to use the Fred Segal mark on signs ‘within the physical boundaries of the center,’” the court’s decision reads. “But it expressly precludes third-party purchasers of the center, like CormackHill, from succeeding to the license: if the center is sold outside the Brown family.”
With the decision, it’s thought that the removal of the signage on the Melrose store is imminent.
CormackHill bought the property from the Brown family for a reported $43 million. It now operates as essentially a mini-mall, with individual brands and even a restaurant leasing interior space. Ron Robinson, who had operated his sizable store within the building for decades, pulled out last year. The Fred Segal brand was first purchased in 2012 by Sandow, now more of a media operator, who last year sold it to Global Icons. Evolution Media, an investment firm operated by Creative Artists Agency and TPG Capital, also maintains a minority stake.
CormackHill had also argued that a single clause in its purchase agreement supported its rights to the exterior signage indefinitely. The court rejected that as well.
“The complete sentence makes clear its meaning: ‘If the transferee is not a member of the Brown family, the individual tenants shall retain all of their rights with respect to the name and none of the signs in or about the center shall be removed as a consequence of such transfer, but such transferee shall not succeed to the rights of licensee hereunder.”
Representatives of Fred Segal and CormackHill declined to comment.