Sportswear company Puma has accused retailer Forever 21 of infringing its design patents, trade dress and copyright.  

Puma filed its suit at the US District Court for the Central District of California on Friday, March 31.

According to the suit (pdf), music artist Rihanna, who has acted as the women’s creative director for Puma clothing and footwear, served as ambassador for the company’s Fenty label.

In 2015, Puma developed and launched the Creeper trainer under the brand name Fenty Puma by Rihanna.

“The overall design of the shoe, including suede uppers, and a thick rubber outer sole consisting of ridged tooling and grainy texture renders the ‘Creeper’ visually distinguishable,” the suit said.

In April last year, Puma launched the Fur Slide sandal, which is a slip-on shoe featuring a “plush fur” side strap with a satin foam backing.

The Bow Slide was launched in March this year. It is a slip-on shoe which incorporates a knotted satin bow on top of the side strap, in addition to satin foam backing.

Forever 21 has “blatantly copied” these shoes through its product Yoki Sneakers, according to the suit.

The Creeper is protected by US patent number D774,288 and all the shoes are protected by trade dress, the claim said.

The Fenty shoes are also protected by copyright, the elements of which include “the ridged vertical tooling and grainy texture encompassing the thick rubber outer sole”, according to the suit.

Puma asked for an injunction against Forever 21, profits, statutory damages, triple damages, costs, pre- and post- judgment interests, and attorneys’ fees.

In March, WIPR reported that Forever 21 sued Adidas and accused the company of taking protection of its ‘three-stripe’ trademark too far.

Forever 21 claimed that it had “fallen victim” to Adidas’s “threats” and that, most recently in a letter dated February 24, Adidas’s counsel threatened to sue Forever 21 over its use of stripes on six items of clothing.

The fashion retailer sought a judgment declaring that it had not infringed Adidas’s trademark and that the stripes on the goods are ornamental and do not serve a source-identifying function.

A spokesperson for Forever 21 told WIPR: "As company policy, we are unable to comment on pending litigation."

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