Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Forever 21 Case Ends in Mistrial

It seems that the culmination of the trial we have all been watching ended in a little bit of a letdown a few days back. While I actually knew about the trial earlier, I have been busy with non blogging things.

Here is what the rest of you may have missed (from The WWD Blog):

"After two years of legal wrangling, days of testimony and thousands of pages of court documents, Trovata and Forever 21 are back at the starting line because of a mistrial over allegations the cheap-chic retailer knowingly copied Trovata's designs.
The conclusion of the trial, which had the potential to clarify intellectual property rights in a time when knockoffs of runway looks often find their way into specialty chains before the originals, didn't bring closure, but Trovata accomplished what design houses with bigger budgets and bigger names could not. It forced $1.7 billion Forever 21 into court to answer questions about mimicking looks from designer collections.

And the game isn't over. Trovata has indicated it will seek a new trial.

The juror on the panel of six men and two women who blocked a Trovata win spoke with conviction after the mistrial. Stephen Sharp said design elements in Trovata garments weren't widely known and, therefore, any similar merchandise in Forever 21 stores didn't confuse the public about the brand.

'The jury is placed under difficult circumstances to be ad hoc fashion experts and the law is somewhat vague and contradictory,' he said. 'There is no impartial body analogous to the patent office. All of these things made it a difficult exercise to go through.'"

I wish Trovata all the best. This trial indicates the absolute necessity to have at least some minimal protection for designers. It is because U.S. law is so opposed to designers' rights (because of the fear that it will inhibit growth in the market) that designers such as Trovata have to argue under trade dress (which may not be the most convincing argument).

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