It’s not the first time we’ll be talking about copycats (and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’ll be our last). It’s one thing when a company copies another company’s designs – which don’t get us wrong, is completely NOT okay.
But huge retailers copying designs from independent artists? That takes copyright infringement to a whole other level.
Earlier this year, we told you the story of LA artist, Tuesday Bassen, suing Zara for copyright infringement. Now, the fight of independent artists against bigger brands continues. A group of 11 international artists sued women’s clothing retailer Francesca’s on Friday, “claiming that the multi-million-dollar company is selling cheap knockoffs of the artists’ enamel pin designs“. This case is, understandably, being called pinfringement.
Allegedly, Francesca’s contracted two Midtown Manhattan-based manufacturers, O.K. Originals and Orion, who then created fake Etsy accounts to order the plaintiffs’ pins in order to use them to create copies. As with the Tuesday Bassen case, when some of the plaintiffs reached out to Francesca’s to call attention to this issue, they were told that the company was “contacting the vendor that sold [them] [the Infringing Products] to investigate and address this issue”. Francesca’s stopped replying to emails after that.
This suit asserts that “Francesca’s had actual or constructive knowledge that O.K. Originals and Orion were creating, importing, and distributing Infringing Products and indeed authorized, participated in, and benefited from this infringing activity.” Furthermore, the plaintiffs state, “consumers viewing the Infringing Products are likely to be confused as to the origin of these goods, and are likely to mistakenly believe that Plaintiff Artists are somehow affiliated with or associated with these goods when in fact they are not.”
As such, though additional defendants can be added to the case as it progresses, the plaintiffs have asked for an immediate injunction on selling the work, along with actual and punitive damages.
As hard as it is to thrive in any creative industry, independent artists shouldn’t have to deal with mass retailers stealing their ideas. We, for one, are looking forward to seeing how this case plays out.
Information and quotes accredited to Refinery29.