On the heel of reports that forever 21 is offering lookalike version of Rihanna Fenty’s for Puma, the German sport wear giant had slapped the copyright retailer with a design patent, trade dress, copyright infringement lawsuits. According to Pumas suit which was filed in district US court for the central district of California, the los –Angeles based fast fats fashion brand has copied three of the most prominent footwear design from Rihanna’s collection for Puma in attempt to “trade on substantial goodwill of Puma, Rihanna, and Fenty shoes.”
Puma alleges in its suit that in the light of the “immense popularity and acclaim” of its Rihanna line of footwear , Forever 21 a copycat , has taken to copy its designs namely , the creeper, Fur slide, and Bow slide styles. In connection with afore mentioned designs, Puma asserts claim of trade dress and copyright infringement. Moreover the sportswear giant claims that Forever 21‘s copies of Creeper give rise to a design patent infringement claims as well as, in connection with U.S. Patent D774288.
Forever 21 blatantly copied Pumas Creeper
In Pumas complaint “Pumas Creeper sneaker and ‘Fur slide’ and ‘Bow slide’ sandals have enjoyed substantial and noteworthy success, and are currently being sold in brick and mortar stores and online retailers , such as Neiman Marcus , Nordstorms , Urban outfitter and Bloomingdales , among other’s”. Per Puma “the demand of Fenty shoes is so great that the puma website has been overwhelmed with traffic on days that the shoe is launch, and ,in fact, crashed the day the ‘Fur Slide’ was first offered for sale.” The creeper style in particular, “routinely sells out within minutes of launch of each new version due to overwhelmed demand.”
The sports brand continues onto note: “seeking to trade on substantial goodwill of Puma, Rihanna, and Fenty shoes Forever21 had blantantly copied each of these shoes.
Trade Dress Infringement
Puma claims: “ in an attempt to ride the coattails of Pumas substantial investment in and success with Fenty shoes , forever21 is using the Fenty Trade dress to offer for sale, distribute, market ,and sell competing shoes that are confusingly similar to Fenty shoes. As reflected in side by side comparison, forever 21s infringing shoes are confusingly similar to Fenty Trade Dress. For the uninitiated, trade dress is a type of trademark that covers product configurations, including the design and shape of product itself. For the “fur slide”, puma claims, “the trade dress consists of, at least, a thick sandal base with a wide plush fur strap extending to the base of the sandal, and a satin foam backing, and shares a deep bowl for the foot. For the “bow slide”, it is thick sandal base decorated by a wide casually knotted satin bow with pointed endings atop the side strap in addition to satin foam backing, and the same deep bowl for foot.”
Additionally, Puma claims copyright in all three of the shoes, citing the recent Supreme Court decision, Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, stating: “The Fenty Copyrights (1) can be perceived as a two- or three- dimensional works of art separate from the Fenty Shoes and (2) would qualify as protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works—either on their own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression.”
In particular, Puma cites the following as the copyright-protected elements of its footwear: The “ridged vertical tooling and grainy texture encompassing the thick rubber outer sole” for the Creeper; the “wide plush fur strap extending to the base of the sandal” for the Fur Slide; and the “casually knotted fabric bow with pointed endings atop a lined side strap that extends to the base of the sandal” for the Bow Slide.
With the foregoing in mind, Puma claims that the similarities are not lost on the industry. It claims that Forever 21’s “use of strikingly similar shoes has not gone unnoticed. The media and consumers alike have commented on the substantial similarities between Puma’s Fenty Copyrights and Defendant’s shoe designs.”
And in case that is not enough, Puma goes on to state that Forever 21’s “business model is based on trading-off of the established goodwill of reputable, name-brand companies, such as Puma” and cites a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, holding “the extraordinary litigating history of Forever 21, which raises the most serious question as to whether it is a business that is predicated in large measure on the systematic infringement of competitors’ intellectual property.”
As a result, Puma is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and all profits and damages derived by Forever 21’s “wrongful acts,” among other relief as deemed necessary by the court.