Razvan Iosif /
16 February 2015Copyright

Writing on the wall for Roberto Cavalli? US court dismisses graffiti motion

Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli will have to defend itself in court after a US judge threw out its motion to dismiss a lawsuit that three graffiti artists filed against it.

In a judgment released on Thursday (February 12), Judge André Birotte at the US District Court for the Central District of California denied Cavalli’s request to dismiss the case.

Graffiti artists Jason Williams, Victor Chapa and Jeffrey Rubin, who go by the street names of ‘Revok’, ‘Reyes’ and ‘Steel’ respectively, sued Cavalli in August last year.

The three men claimed Cavalli featured a mural they were commissioned to paint in San Francisco without their permission. Cavalli allegedly used the work on a range of clothing and accessories that formed part of the Just Cavalli line.

They sued Cavalli, as well as Amazon, fashion retailer Nordstrom and online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos—which all sold the range—for copyright infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin.

In the complaint, the artists claimed that the range used Chapa’s (‘Reyes’s’) ‘revolutions’ style of imagery, which is typically associated with his work. The range also allegedly featured the stylised signatures of ‘Revok’ and ‘Steel’.

Issuing his judgment, Birotte said: “Defendants left Chapa’s imagery intact, but re-arranged the ‘Revok’ and ‘Steel’ signatures, rendering them indiscernible in the resulting clothing.”

He added: “On some of the items in the collection, the brand name ‘Just Cavalli’ was superimposed over images of plaintiffs’ mural. Plaintiffs contend that defendants’ conduct was intentionally designed to ‘induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal’ the infringement.”

Chapa alleged that Cavalli’s use of his ‘revolutions’ imagery created the “false and deceptive impression that the Just Cavalli garments and accessories are associated with and/or manufactured by [Chapa] and plaintiffs.”

Birotte agreed: “This conduct constitutes passing off.”

He added: “The court denies defendant’s motion to dismiss.”

The artists have asked for a jury trial, a permanent injunction against Cavalli and the other defendants, and damages. It is unclear when the trial will take place.

Cavalli did not respond to a request to comment.

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More on this story

27 August 2014   Three US graffiti artists have sued Roberto Cavalli for copyright infringement after the Italian fashion house featured their work on a range of clothing.