Massive e-commerce company Shein is facing a lawsuit for violating the federal anti-racketeering act, RICO, by allegedly replicating works of independent designers.
Accusations in detail: Three artists — Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez and Jay Baron — allege Shein made exact copies of their work without their knowledge.
* Perry is a designer and illustrator based in Massachusetts, who created a graphic design with the stylized words “make it fun” on a pink background – Shein reportedly began selling it as wall art.
* Shein has also reportedly replicated Baron’s design of an embroidered name tag-style patch that says, “Hello I’m Trying My Best” and Martinez’s design of a pair of overalls with orange daisies on them.
Lawsuit claims: The artists’ lawyers allege that this copying behavior is part of a larger pattern of unethical business practices, which include harming the environment, promoting unsafe working conditions and evading taxes.
* The designers claim they have suffered “substantial damage to [their] businesses in the form of trade diversion, loss of profits, and a diminishing in the value” of their products and reputations.
* Defendants named in the suit include Shein Distribution Corp., Roadget and Zoetop.
Challenges: It can be difficult to settle lawsuits in the fashion industry because companies cannot copyright “useful things, at least not in their entirety,” according to a 2021 interview with lawyer and fashion blogger, Julie Zerbo.
* Clothing is a utility item and does not have as many protections, leading lawyers to hesitate when taking on these types of allegations.
What they’re saying: Jeff Gluck, the attorney representing the designers, said their law firm is currently battling similar cases, and expressed hope for a successful outcome that will positively impact the global art and design communities.
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