Speaking of fashion and legal battles, but with far less head-butting (thus far), an important piece of litigation is hitting the courts in California this week. After a few years of wrangling over accusations by the fashion house Trovata that the retail chain Forever 21 has long been stealing its designs and repackaging them under their own brand at a significant discount, the debate has finally gone before a judge and a jury. The outcome should prove interesting, as currently it’s murky legal territory, with fashion designers stuck in a position of not really being able to defend their designs, just their copyrighted images. If something changes in this battle and Forever 21 is found in the wrong, it could be a turning point for often-copied designers and a potentially big blow to the copy cats. Here’s a bit:
“Much the same as a music composer, [the designer] takes notes, chords, sharps and flats and combines them and arranges them to make original music,” Trovata attorney Frank Colucci said in his opening statement to the jury of six men and two women. “The notes, the chords, the sharps and flats are all known; it is the way they are combined and arranged that make new music.”
Forever 21’s attorney replied:
“Much like a recipe for something like apple cobbler, Trovata is saying they didn’t invent the apples or the cinnamon or the sugar, but they are claiming the right to the combination,” [Bruce Brunda told the jury.
Update: The week’s earlier courtroom battle royale wound up puttering out as quickly as it began and has already ended, in a mistrial no less. But Trovata isn’t keen to let this go and already sounds ready to get back into court.