Indie clothing company Riot Society is taking the fast-fashion brand Fashion Nova to court.
Riot Society, a Los Angeles-based clothing and accessories company, known legally as L.A. T-Shirt & Print Inc., alleges Fashion Nova, the company that built its brand off Instagram and using influencers to sell products, copied one of its best-selling images, slapping it on garments and benefiting as a result.
The lawsuit, filed in a California court last month, alleges copyright infringement and is asking Fashion Nova for damages in an amount up to $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as all legal fees.
The design in question is Riot Society’s “Panda Rose,” a “unique two-dimensional nonfunctional artwork,” according to court documents.
The “Always Love Sweatshirt” is currently available on Fashionnova.com for $15. The company also sells men’s apparel, accessories and beauty products.
Fashion Nova would not respond to WWD’s request for comment — nor did it respond to Riot Society. According to court documents, Riot Society said it first learned that Fashion Nova was using the image last June and immediately sent the company a letter asking Fashion Nova to “stop engaging in such infringing conduct,” but Fashion Nova did not respond.
Riot Society filed an application with the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright registration of the design on Nov. 27, a day before the copyright lawsuit was filed.
But Susan Scafidi, a fashion lawyer and founder of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, said it’s not unusual for companies to file for copyright protection immediately before filing a lawsuit. While copyright protection for nonfunctional created works is automatic, companies still need to go through the formal process of registering.
Riot Society did not respond to a request for comment.