Cell phone cases by Valfré

Forever 21 is being accused of ripping off the designs of another company — again.

Valfré, a Los Angeles-based apparel and accessories brand known best for its pop-art cell phone cases designed by illustrator Ilse Valfré, has sent a cease and desist letter to Forever 21 over a rainbow cell phone cover the budding company says is an “exact replica” of its design, WWD has learned.

The letter was sent Friday to Forever 21, but the fast-fashion retailer has yet to respond to Valfré’s accusations of copyright infringement and the company is planning to file suit should the silence continue.

“Should Forever 21 take responsibility for the infringement, cooperate with our investigation and agree to tender reasonable compensation, then no court case will be necessary,” Valfré attorney Scott Alan Burroughs said.

As for why legal action against Forever 21 may be necessary, Burroughs said Valfré is a company known for its original designs “and the copying of those designs by big corporations really damages our relationship with consumers and the market.”

A comparison of Valfré’s rainbow phone case (left) and Forever 21’s case. 

While Valfré prices its phone cases roughly between $20 and $40, Forever 21 is selling the alleged knockoff for $10.

Representatives of Forever 21 could not be reached for comment.

The trend-hungry retailer is no stranger to litigation over its alleged copycatting ways. Forever 21 has faced scores of lawsuits alleging trademark and copyright infringement and is currently defending against claims from Puma over shoes designed by Rihanna and was recently called out on social media for selling clothes resembling Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” merchandise.  

Valfré rose to popularity through Instagram and has since grown beyond cell phone cases to a line of apparel, handbags and stationary illustrated by the brand’s founder, but has recently taken to enforcing its intellectual property rights.

In April the company sued struggling teen retailer Rue 21 for allegedly using several of its cell phone cover designs for a line of earbuds.

A comparison of Valfré’s phone cases and Rue 21’s earbuds. 

Valfré said Rue 21 developed, distributed and “widely promoted” the earbuds knowing they were “identical” to Valfré’s designs and doing so without permission, according to the complaint.

The company added that it’s suffering “irreparable harm” through Rue 21’s use of its designs and is seeking up to $150,000 in damages for each infringing product, along with the disgorgement of all profits from the sale of the earbuds.

Rue21 has yet to respond to the complaint and a company representative could not be reached for comment, but the earbuds at issue currently do not appear on the retailer’s web site.

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