Forever 21’s Ability to Copy Designer Clothes Could Be in Jeopardy
For over two years, Trovata has been fighting with Forever 21 over a batch of shirts it made that Forever 21 allegedly copied. You can see above that they look basically the same. A jury will decide the case in court next month, unless the companies settle before then. The trial would mark the first time a jury decides if Forever 21 illegally copied designer clothing. The verdict could change how far Forever 21 and other fast-fashion chains can go in copying designer labels.
That Forever 21 and its peers copy — or take "inspiration" from — designer clothing is no secret. But no laws exist to prevent this from happening. You can't copyright clothes under current laws, only original graphics or prints on clothes. Still, companies including Diane Von Furstenberg, Anna Sui, and Anthropologie have filed over 50 lawsuits against Forever 21 over the last three years relating to copyright infringement. (Forever 21 settled the cases out of court.) Unlike previous lawsuits against Forever 21, Trovata's doesn't accuse the store of copyright infringement, but alleges that Forever 21 copied unique button placements, decorative stitching, and fabric patterns, among other details.
The CFDA has been pushing Congress to pass the Design Piracy and Prohibition Act to protect the basic design of clothes. Critics say the act would stifle competition and commerce in the apparel industry. Indeed, the act could cause an onslaught of lawsuits among labels accusing one another of illegally copying their clothes. Designers copy — or take "inspiration" from — each other all the time. If the suit brings about a change in regulations, the quality of goods in fast-fashion chains could suffer greatly, which would be a bad thing for broke people like us. The only good thing about heightened regulations might be the affect it would have on celebrity lines. Since whenever you ask a celebrity who allegedly designs clothing what inspired them, they almost always reply with a designer name, rather than an original idea.