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It's barely news anymore when somebody sues Forever 21 for copyright violations—Anthropologie, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui and BeBe have all done it, and each time, the companies have settled out of court. But Trovata's two-year-old lawsuit against the megastore is a little bit different. Trovata isn't alleging copyright infringement, which only applies to prints and graphics. Instead, they're accusing Forever 21 of trade dress infringement—basically, presenting their clothing in a way that suggests it might have been made by Trovata.
The lawsuit is going to trial, and if Trovata wins, Forever 21 might have to be much more careful with their designs. Even if they don't, it sounds like the fast-fashion retailer's checkered legal past is beginning to catch up with it. In a separate lawsuit involving Anthropologie, a New York judge chastised the brand, saying, "We note the extraordinary litigating history of this company, which raises the most serious questions as to whether it is a business that is predicated in large measure on the systematic infringement of competitors' intellectual property." In other words, where there's this much legal smoke, there must be fire.
· Trovata, Forever 21 Case Set for Trial [WWD]