25 January 2023CopyrightLiz Hockley

Anthropologie, Nordstrom, et al hit with copyright suit

Large retailers sued in California over alleged unauthorised use of floral pattern | Designer seeks £150k per infringement | Alleged infringers had access to samples, says complaint.

Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, The Odells and other retailers have been sued for alleged copyright infringement over a flower design on clothing.

In the complaint, filed on Tuesday, January 24 in the Central District Court of California, fashion designer Jennifer Park accuses the companies of using her copyrighted textile design without authorisation.

The floral design was created by a company called Circle Trim, of which Park was the CEO at the time. A copyright was secured for the pattern in 2017, and then transferred to Park in 2019.

Allegations of infringement

Park claims that a number of clothing companies and retailers sold items bearing an unauthorised reproduction of her design in separate incidents. The firms being sued are The Odells, Garmentory, Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Poshmark, along with a number of other as-yet unidentified firms also alleged to have committed copyright.

She is seeking damages under the US Copyright Act of up to $150,000 per infringement.

The complaint includes photos of various items of clothing such as tops and dresses, sold by the defendants, carrying a flower pattern that Park alleges is a copy of her design.

According to the lawsuit, these comparisons “make apparent that the elements, colours, composition, arrangement, layout and appearance of the designs are substantially similar”.

She alleges that the defendants had access to the design in various ways; through her showroom and/or design library, through illegally distributed copies of the design by third-party vendors and/or DOE defendants, by access to her strike-offs and samples, and through clothes that were being sold that lawfully carried the design.

The complaint requests that the retailers stop selling clothes with the design and “account to plaintiff for their profits and any damages sustained by plaintiff arising from the foregoing acts of infringement, the exact sum to be proven at the time of trial under the Copyright Act, 17 USC § 504(b), or, if elected before final judgment, statutory damages as available under the Copyright Act, 17 USC § 504(c)”.

Park is also asking for attorneys’ fees and costs.

Anthropologie, Nordstrom, The Odells and Poshmark have all been contacted by WIPR for comment.

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