15 March 2022TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Stussy sues Shein over streetwear trademarks

China-based online fashion company Shein is facing a lawsuit from Stussy, over claims that it infringed the brand’s graffiti-style trademarks used on its designer streetwear.

The complaint was filed at the US District Court for the District of California on Thursday, March 10.

According to the filing, Shein used and infringed the marks by offering for sale, selling and distributing products that bear copies and close reproductions of the Stussy marks, in actions that would likely lead to consumer confusion.

“Defendant’s use of ‘Stussy’ is a counterfeit in that the mark is virtually identical to the genuine Stussy marks,” said the filing.

“The Stussy marks are widely recognised and understood as standing for Stussy’s excellent reputation and products,” noted the company.

The designer also contended that its marks were more valuable than ordinary marks because its business model focuses on the creation of an exclusive brand with limited distribution. “As a result, there is much unmet demand for Stussy’s products and for products with Stussy’s look,” said Stussy.

The company accused Shein of trying to fill the market for Stussy’s products by diverting customers to its website containing infringing products.

“Stussy has suffered loss of profits and other damages, and defendant has earned illegal profits,.” said the filing.

Founded in 2008 by Chris Xu, Shein has developed into a multi-billion dollar brand on the back of selling cheap and trending clothes to consumers predominantly aged under 30.

A leading fashion e-commerce site, Shein has become the largest fast-fashion retailer in the US, according to a 2021 report from data analysis company Earnest Research, with more app downloads in the US than Amazon.

The report noted that in June 2021,  Shein comprised 28% of US fast fashion sales, surpassing H&M (20%), Zara (11%), Forever 21 (10%) and Fashion Nova (8%).

Overall, the US fast fashion market grew 15% between January 2021 and mid-June. Within that same timeframe, Shein grew by nearly 160%, per the report.

This is the latest in a number of trademark and copyright infringement lawsuits filed against the e-commerce company.

In June last year, Dr Marten’s AirWair International sued Shein over trademark infringement, while in 2018, US jeans brand Levi Strauss accused Shein of copying a stitch pattern found in the back pockets of trademarked Levi’s jeans, in a suit that was later settled.

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14 June 2021   China-based online fashion company Shein allegedly infringed IP, according to a complaint filed by Dr Martens maker AirWair International.
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