Forever 21 has been accused of ripping off other designers many times in the past — from big labels like Adidas and H&M to smaller individuals like Marta Freedman. Yet in an ironic turn of events, the fast-fashion retailer has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit — concerning a popular pattern featured on its harem pants — at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Forever 21 claims that both C. Luce (parent company TCEC) and CornerStone Apparel, doing business as Papaya Clothing, copied one of its “original” designs, according to documents published on Monday. The pattern at the center of the lawsuit is featured on its $17.80 Ikat printed harem pants, for which the retailer holds copyright registration.
Forever 21 claims the defendants named in the suit were “manufacturing, offering for sale, selling and/or sold clothing items which embodied designs that wholly and completely copied Forever 21’s Design and which is protected by Forever 21’s Copyright therein.”
The California-based firm claims the infringement is significant because the defendants “intentionally and knowingly reproduced, copied, displayed, manufactured, derived, and distributed products embodying colorable imitations of Forever 21’s Design which is protected by Forever 21’s Copyright in the Design.”
Although the exact designs the defendants are accused of replicating are unclear, a number of styles appear similar upon glancing at the Papaya clothing website — with some differences in the colors and patterns.
Forever 21 claims that it “has suffered and will continue to suffer substantial damages to its business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of income and profits” because of the defendants’ embodied designs. The popular teen brand is seeking damages for the defendants’ profits of the patterned clothing — along with a court order to destroy the embodied designs — as well as attorney fees, according to the Fashion Law.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims its renowned status has made it susceptible to many makeshift look-alikes over the years. “Particularly in light of the success of Forever 21 and Forever 21’s clothing, as well as the reputation Forever 21 has gained, Forever 21 and its products have become targets for unscrupulous individuals and entities who wish to unlawfully imitate Forever 21’s copyrighted styles and designs.”
Although the brand has been on the other side of this type of case many times, it isn’t the first time the retailer has filed for copyright infringement — including litigation in August 2016 against Bastiat USA., also known as Brandy Melville. The product in question was Brandy Melville’s $29 red printed Abigail dress.
At the time, Forever 21 claimed its rival was “offering for sale and selling clothing items which embodied designs that wholly and completely copied Forever 21’s design and which is protected by Forever 21’s [federal] Copyright [registration].” The case has not been settled.
Yahoo Style reached out to Forever 21, C. Luce, and Papaya Clothing regarding the recent litigation and will update if we hear back.