Trovata’s Suit Against Forever 21 Ultimately Has No Effect on Knockoff Regulations

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The Forever 21 shirts are on the top row, Trovata's are on the bottom. Photo: Courtesy photo

Trovata's lawsuit against Forever 21 for allegedly copying some of its tops ended on Friday. Trovata decided to settle the suit, which dragged on for two years, and marked the first time Forever 21 faced a jury in knockoff allegations (the fast-fashion chain has been sued more than 50 times over the last three years for alleged copycats). The verdict was expected to be a landmark ruling in what constituted illegal knockoffs of clothing, which are not protected by copyright laws. WWD reports:

“A ruling against [Forever 21] could have [had] a dampening effect on the willingness of people to make on-trend garments that resemble items from other apparel makers,” said William Levin, a trade dress and copyright attorney. “You don’t want to keep competitors — and can’t — from entering the marketplace, and the law has to allow fair competition, but you don’t want anyone to cross the line into knocking off unique and special things.”


Trovata was accusing Forever 21 not of violating copyright laws, but of trade dress infringement. In other words, the jury was supposed to determine whether Forever 21's combined use of certain design elements like button spacing and round zipper pulls were, in the minds of consumers, unique to the Trovata brand.

“I just think after two long years of litigation it was time to bring the curtain down on this,” Trovata attorney Frank Colucci said. Legal battles with Forever 21 take a lot of stamina. Just like shopping there.

Trovata, Forever 21 Reach Settlement in Copying Suit [WWD]