New York—Artist and designer Vera Newmann might have been known for painting whimsical, cheerful floral prints, but her namesake company is seeing red over an alleged copyright infringement.
On Tuesday, The Vera Company, which owns the rights to the late designer’s artwork, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, charging kate spade new york with copying one of Vera’s famed prints from 1979 “Poppy Field,” and using them on apparel and accessories designs last year. Vera Company seeks $1 million in damages.
According to the New York Post, the lawsuit also cites the 2004 book Style by Kate Spade, written by kate spade new york’s founder, as evidence that kate spade used Vera Neumann’s designs as inspiration.
“When Vera made scarves, there was nothing cutesy about them. They always made you feel happy,” reads a passage in Spade’s book.
Representatives for kate spade new york, and its parent, Fifth & Pacific Cos. (formerly Liz Claiborne Inc.) were unavailable to respond to the suit.
A life long artist with paintings handing in many U.S. museums, Neumann began her business during World War II with mostly floral scarves bearing her iconic “Vera” signature and often a ladybug.
Over the years, Neumann’s business expanded into apparel, home textiles, dinnerware, umbrellas and other categories. Some 8,000 Vera designs are in the Library of Congress and at her company’s height in the 1970s, sales were in the $100 millions.
In 1975 the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology honored Neumann with a retrospective: “Vera: The Artist in Industry 1945–1975.”
Neumann died in 1993 but her famous florals live on. Her painterly patterns are highly sought after by collectors, too.
The Vera Company has eight licensees that still produce Vera designs.