16 March 2022TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Patagonia sues ‘impersonator’ who tried to lure models

US retailer Patagonia has been the victim of “a dangerous and predatory scheme” by a fraudster who allegedly has infringed the brand’s trademarks and impersonated its former creative director, according to a lawsuit.

The outdoor apparel brand filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday, March 15.

According to the filing, the as yet unnamed defendant misappropriated Patagonia’s corporate identity and trademarks to lure aspiring models to photo shoots under false pretences, beginning in late-January 2022.

The alleged fraudster intentionally impersonated authorised representatives of Patagonia—including the brand’s former creative director—“as part of a scheme to defraud (or worse) potential apparel models, solicit disclosure of personal information from them, and convince them to travel to a fake photography session”.

‘Personal and sensitive information’

The complaint alleged that in addition to these harmful misappropriations of Patagonia’s identity, the defendant registered email addresses using Patagonia’s corporate name and its trademark.

The lawsuit claimed that the impersonator identified potential apparel models based on Instagram profiles belonging to young women and men in the Los Angeles area.

“In the deceptive messages sent to potential models, defendant falsely advertised a paid photography opportunity and offered to hire the recipients to appear in photos commissioned by Patagonia as part of ‘Patagonia Clothing’s COVID-19 Response Campaign’,” noted the filing.

To ensure their participation, the defendant allegedly offered $2,500 to potential models and requested that the recipients of the email messages provide personal and sensitive information including their address, phone number, physical measurements, and marital status.

‘Wilful and malicious’

“Defendant’s trademark infringement, fraudulent conduct, and false representations are willful and malicious,” contended the suit.

Patagonia further pointed out that it had taken action by working with Google to disable the first Gmail account that the defendant used to send his or her fraudulent messages, but that the defendant registered yet another Gmail account misappropriating Patagonia’s identity to continue the scheme.

This misuse of these trademarks has caused or will cause a likelihood of confusion among the public regarding whether Patagonia has authorised the defendant’s purported coordination of photography sessions, and/or whether Patagonia is somehow affiliated with the defendant, said the complaint.

The fraud has damaged both the recipients and Patagonia, including by damaging Patagonia’s brand and reputation, added the retailer.

Patagonia is seeking damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief that requires the alleged fraudster to immediately discontinue the scheme, including by ceasing to send messages under the guise of authority from Patagonia and in connection with its trademarks.

“As a result of the defendant’s misappropriation, Patagonia’s brand and reputation have been damaged, and the ability of its name and corporate identity to uniquely identify Patagonia has been diminished,” the brand said.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox

Today’s top stories

High Court finds Apple infringed two more Optis SEPs

Why refresh the Top 100 Global Innovators?

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

11 February 2020   Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and apparel maker, has filed a lawsuit with the US District Court for the Central District of California Western Division, claiming Wyoming-based OC Media infringed its trademarks with a 'Petrogonia' clothing range.
10 April 2019   American clothing company Patagonia has accused the North American subsidiary of the world’s largest brewery of filing “false evidence” with the US Patent and Trademark Office in order to “unlawfully” obtain a mark for ‘Patagonia’ in relation to beer.
24 November 2022   Eco brand sold pocket design for more than 30 years | Patagonia claims ‘copy’ was designed as though it was in collaboration with global retailer | Customer review allegedly called it an "obvious Patagonia ripoff".