Unicolors Inc is a Californian based company that sells fashion apparel using bespoke printed fabrics. On the other hand, Boohoo Plc is a UK retailer that sells on trend fast fashion at affordable prices.
On 15th January 2021, Unicolors Inc filed a complaint with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York claiming that Boohoo Plc had copied one of its floral pattern designs. Unicolors Inc was adamant that it is the originator of the floral pattern and that Boohoo Plc had purposively infringed it.
Unicolors Inc is seeking a court order preventing Boohoo Plc from continuing to use its design (this may include stopping Boohoo Plc from selling the product containing the infringing work). Additionally Unicolors is seeking statutory damages under the US Copyright Act.
Some may state that it is quite ironic that Unicolors Inc and Boohoo Plc are opposing parties in an intellectual property dispute, as Unicolors Inc have garnered a reputation for filing copyright claims against fast fashion brands and Boohoo Plc has been accused of infringing designs on numerous occasions. Most recently, it accused H&M for intellectual property right infringement.
It is likely that this claim will not make it to trial due to expense and there will be a settlement agreed. A settlement will involve Booho Plc paying Unicolors Inc an agreed amount that for its damages and legal costs. Thus, some have labelled Unicolors Inc a ‘copyright troll’ because of its willingness to issue copyright infringement claims can be seen as a method to legally extort bigger fashion brands. This view takes into consideration the fact that down the fashion supply chain, the same fabrics and factories are all used by different companies. Hence, infringement in fast fashion has become common place.
Nevertheless, one could take the view that Unicolors Inc is within its intellectual property rights to claim against any legal entity that infringes this. Consequently, it rightfully enjoys the luxury of choosing to bring as many claims as it sees fit. Furthermore, the burden is on other companies not to infringe its designs, and if they do, they must pay the price in style.
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