In a somewhat unsurprising move, Levi Strauss & Co. has cried foul over Evisu’s plans to replicate some of the American denim brand’s most famous pairs of jeans.
The San Francisco-based company filed a trademark infringement suit against its younger competitor on March 26. The action came a little more than two weeks after Evisu chief executive officer Scott Morrison revealed details of the upcoming “Private Stock” line to WWD on March 11. At the time, the Japanese brand said the limited edition run, set to ship for fall, would pay homage to Levi’s 1944 501 jeans, its 1890 “Nevada” pair and its 1917 “Campbell” jeans.
In its complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Levi’s alleges the Evisu line will lead to customer confusion, cause a false association between the two companies and cause it to lose sales.
According to court documents, it’s not the first legal match between the two firms. Levi’s included with the filing a copy of a 1999 settlement in which Evisu agreed not to use several specific pocket designs as well as any “substantially similar” to the Levi’s arcuate trademark. The company also agreed not to use the name Evis, as it had in some early product. The terms apply in every market worldwide except Japan, according to the settlement.
The Levi’s suit accuses Evisu of violating several portions of the agreement with images of designs on its Web site and by using the name Evis in a press release for the Private Stock collection.
Among other remedies, Levi’s is seeking an injunction, a ruling that Evisu has breached the 1999 agreement, unspecified damages and lost profits.
Evisu’s Morrison didn’t return a call seeking comment on Wednesday. When he revealed plans for Private Stock, he said Evisu was “merely taking inspiration from our past and paying homage to one of the oldest, or historically relevant, jeans in existence, which in this case happens to have been an amazing pair of Levi’s.”
“We’re not remaking a Levi’s jean, nor are we claiming that this is a Levi’s jean,” Morrison said.
Levi’s director of corporate communications Kelley Benander said the company did not comment on the specifics of pending litigation but added, “The trademarks of Levi Strauss & Co. are some of our company’s most valuable assets and we protect them diligently with the best interests of the consumer in mind.”