U.S. Court Rules Suit over Graffiti Artists Trademark, Copyright Claims to Proceed

In What's New, Industry News by Accessories Staff

cavalli-lift-revok-reyes-steelLos Angeles—A federal court judge last week rejected a motion to dismiss the trademark and copyright lawsuit against Roberto Cavalli and several retailers. The case will now proceed to trial on all counts.

While Cavalli told the court that the allegations from artists who claimed the designer copied their paintings “have no basis in fact and are incorrect,” the judge ruled that the case should proceed, and that the stylized signatures of prominent artists from a San Francisco mural could constitute copyright-identifying information, and the unauthorized inclusion of the artwork on Just Cavalli apparel sold at retailers such as Amazon and Nordstrom could constitute trademark infringement and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act.

The mural’s painters, Victor Chapa, Jeffrey Rubin and Jason Williams, known as Revok, Reyes, and Steel, respectively sued Cavalli, Amazon.com and other retailers in August over the an apparel line, alleging not only copyright infringement, but false designation of origin. They alleged that artwork used to create Roberto Cavalli’s Spring Summer 2014 mass market Just Cavalli “Graffiti” collection was mechanically copied, without the artists’ knowledge or permission, from the trio’s legal and widely celebrated Mission District mural in San Francisco.

The mass market Just Cavalli “Graffiti” collection was distributed by major fashion licensee Staff International. The collection was sold worldwide by hundreds of retailers, including defendants Nordstrom, Amazon, and Zappos. The artists allege that the collection appears to prominently feature their original artwork, covering nearly 50 products, including men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, and even luggage.

In addition to suing Cavalli and licensee Staff International, the artists have recently added new defendants to the lawsuit for allegedly selling the infringing products, including Neiman Marcus, YOOX and Luisa Via Roma.

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