Fashion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Forever 21 Told To Produce Docs
Fashion Article Posted March 21, 2009

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Anthropologie filed a lawsuit in September 2007 alleging that Forever 21 was selling look-alike clothing that infringed the copyrights of nine garments.

Forever 21 Told To Produce Docs In Copyright Suit By Richard Vanderford

A judge has blasted Forever 21 Inc. for blocking discovery by withholding documents in a copyright infringement case filed against it by clothing retailer Anthropologie Inc., ordering the clothing company to produce them or surrender its hard drives for inspection.

In an order issued March 12, Judge Michael H. Dolinger of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York criticized the conduct of Forever 21, saying its response to discovery requests reflected
a troubling degree of disingenuousness."

Forever 21 must produce sales documents that it has allegedly withheld over the past year, the order says. Hard drives on Forever 21's computers may be copied by Anthropologie if Forever 21 fails to comply, according to the order.

Anthropologie filed a lawsuit in September 2007 alleging that Forever 21 was selling look-alike clothing that infringed the copyrights of nine garments.

As part of discovery, Anthropologie requested sales documents from Forever 21 relating to garments that allegedly infringed Anthropologie's copyrights, according to the order.

Forever 21 instead produced summaries of the figures for settlement purposes only
while maintaining the underlying documents were too burdensome to locate, according to the order.

The judge said that was deceit, and noted later that Forever 21 had made a series of manifestly false statements over a period several months and that the credibility of defendants is in serious question.
Given the scale of defendants' business, it is virtually inconceivable that it does not keep records [relating to the sale of these garments], Judge Dolinger said. Now defendants' own conduct in discovery including its proffer of summaries of that data conclusively demonstrates the falsity of its prior representations.

Anthropologie claims in court documents that the allegedly infringing garments undermine the company's
reputation of having distinctive designs and being of the highest quality.

The alleged infringement has caused the company to suffer irreparable damage and lost revenues, it said, and asked the court to enjoin Forever 21 from further infringement and to recall and destroy any offending merchandise in addition to seeking treble damages. Anthropologie is one in a long line of clothing designers and stores that have sued Forever 21 over its apparel.

In the past two years Forever 21 had been sued at least 33 times for alleged copyright infringements, including two previous suits from Anthropologie. Clothing designers Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui and Levi Strauss & Co., among others, have filed suits against Forever 21 in the past.

Forever 21 operates a chain of 355 retail stores in the U.S. and has undergone rapid expansion in the past few years, opening an estimated 90 new stores each year. The clothing chain made more than $1 billion in sales from March 2006 to March 2007, according to court documents.
Forever 21 and its attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anthropologie is represented in the matter by Duane Morris LLP.
Forever 21 is represented in the matter by Powley & Gibson PC.
The case is Anthropologie Inc. v. Forever 21 Inc., case number 07-cv-07873, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


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