Forever 21 Sues Gucci, Attempts to Have Trademarks Cancelled
Los Angeles – Los Angeles based fast-fashion company Forever 21, filed a lawsuit against the internationally famous Italian design house Gucci last week. This lawsuit is the latest development in a series of lawsuits by and against Forever 21.
The dispute between Gucci and Forever 21 began in October of 2016, when the Italian company sent a cease and desist letter to Forever 21. In the letter, Gucci demanded that Forever 21 cease all sales of certain garments, specifically any products that features a blue-red-blue stripe or green-red-green stripe. Gucci currently holds numerous trademark protections on garment stripe combinations. Some of those trademarks have been in place since 1988. The specific articles in question are three bomber jackets, a choker neckless, and a sweater. Gucci sent two more subsequent letters, one in January and another in February of 2017.
Forever 21 responded to the letters by filing a lawsuit against Gucci in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. In the lawsuit, Forever 21 has taken two courses of action against Gucci. First, Forever 21 is seeking declaratory relief which is basically a judgment of a court which determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. It is typically used to settle legal controversies in a favorable venue and allows a company to have certainty that its action are authorized rather than have a litigation cloud hang over the business. In so doing, Forever 21 is hoping a federal court in Los Angeles will rule that they are not infringing on Gucci’s trademarks. Such a ruling would eliminate Gucci’s case against Forever 21.
Furthermore, Forever 21 is suing to have Gucci’s nine trademark registrations in question cancelled, as well as cancelling any pending applications for related trademarks. Forever 21 argues that stripes and particular color patterns are enormously popular and that they do not designate the source of goods. Many garments and accessories are decorated with stripes and as such Gucci should not be allowed to hold a monopoly on stripes and all green-red-green and blue-red-blue patterns.
Finally, Forever 21 argues that consumers are not likely to confuse the striped patterns of Gucci with Forever 21. Forever 21 claims that consumers will not believe they are buying a Gucci product when they enter a Forever 21 store, purchase a sweater that was manufactured by Forever 21, with a label that states it is from Forever 21, and has no affiliation with Gucci at all.
A spokesman from Gucci stated that Forever 21’s lawsuit is an effort to distract from its own “blatant infringements.” Gucci claims that Forever 21 has a long knock off reputation of profiting from other companies’ trademarks and copyrights. Gucci intends to continue its claim against Forever 21, and protect its brand identity and intellectual property rights.