Sandow, majority owner of the Los Angeles boutique brand Fred Segal, hopes a lawsuit will help sever ties with the retailer’s former Melrose Avenue location and home since 1961.
A complaint filed in Central District Court last week alleges trademark infringement and unfair competition among other charges against the owner of the building at Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights, CormackHill LP, which acquired the property this year. It was the second time the Fred Segal building had traded hands, with the first being in 2001 when the Segal family sold it to its insurance broker Bud Brown and his family. The Browns struck a licensing deal with the Segals to continue using the trademarked Fred Segal name, along with the tenants leasing space within the building so long as it was written into their leases. Fred Segal leased out space to create shops-in-shop under its roof that became a breeding ground for emerging designers and also the embodiment of L.A. style.
Under the deal with the Browns, the Fred Segal sign marking the building could be used even if the property was sold again so long as tenants who had use of the brand name written into their lease contracts were under the roof. Last week’s complaint contends no tenants in the building by early this year had legal right to use the Fred Segal name. Sandow and Fred Segal asked late last month that the building owner remove the sign to no avail, according to the filing.
“Defendant has appropriated the mark, deceived consumers and traded on plaintiff’s goodwill by maintaining a ‘Fred Segal’ sign on the building, even though the location no longer has any affiliation with Fred Segal,” the complaint stated.
The lawsuit estimates the value of keeping the Fred Segal name on the building is between $200,000 to $500,000 a month.
Calls made Wednesday morning to Fred Segal’s head of business development as well as the attorney that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the company were not immediately returned.
Mention of Melrose has been wiped from the Fred Segal web site, leaving its shop at Los Angeles International Airport its lone space domestically. A store in Santa Monica was shuttered earlier this year. The brand also tried its hand at a Las Vegas location, which is also no longer in operation. The company is now turning to Playa Vista, Calif., where it was confirmed in February it will open a 20,000-square-foot store. Its other two locations are located in Japan.
A majority stake in the retailer was sold in 2012 to Sandow, which brought on Evolution Media Partners in May of that year in a bid to position the retail brand as a global player in the marketplace. Evolution is a joint venture between CAA, TPG Growth and Participant Media.
The following year, the fragrance kit The Blend by Fred Segal rolled out. Last month, the brand marked a return to the apparel business when it revealed it was launching an apparel line called Fred by Fred Segal. The company is now teasing exclusives on its web site with sock brand Darner and the design studio of Stephen Kenn, both of Los Angeles, along with Schott N.Y.C. and Brooklyn bag and accessories company Baggu, due out this year.