Forever 21 Steals Speckles the Loss Cat
Concept from Atlanta Artist R.Land
It looks like Retail
giant Forever 21 is at it again.
I kept hearing about Forever 21, and so I thought I'd check out
the site. Although I never purchased anything, from time to time
I'd check out their new inventory.
On my second or third time there, I saw a shirt that said "Lost Cat" and
immediately I thought something didn't look right. It looked almost exactly
like my "Loss Cat" t-shirt by Atlanta based multimedia artist R.
Land (which brough "Speckles the loss cat" to street art cult status),
but there were slight alterations. The concept was exactly the same, the font
was the same, and the copy was from a poster I'd seen on one of R. Lands facebook
pages. I was totally confused. I contacted the artist and discovered that the
Forever 21 "Lost Cat" shirt had never been authorized and was a
knock off of the original from 2001. I had heard stories of the big retail
ripping off designs from sites like Etsy, but I guess I didn't realize how
blatant it was! Turns out upon further investigation this is nothing new
for Forever 21 with almost 60 copyright infringement lawsuits filed against
in the past three years by designers including Diane Von Furstenburg, Anna
Sui and Gwen Stefani. I was shocked!
The problem of artists (commercial or otherwise) getting ripped off by
retail giants is growing. Artists need to be made aware that unless they
legally in this predatory economy, they are vulnerable to attack by culture
vultures with big gun lawyers. Why should the term "buyer beware" only
apply to the consumer and not the big corporate giants? Some of the biggest
ones are not showing due diligence in researching and/or ethical judgment in
their buying habits. They hide behind buying entities (LLCs within LLCs) to
defer the blame. Interestingly enough, the owners of Forever 21 are "christian" and
they print the bible verse John 3:16 on the bottom of their bags. Apparently,
they don't spend money on advertising. Instead they spend money to settle
out of infringement cases in court. It's their strategy.
Forever 21 has also sued a blogger who was complaining about these predatory
business practices for "brand infringement and dilution."
It brings to mind the question: At what point does a creative entity become
it's own thing and no longer a copy? If something is just different enough,
it can pass on it's own sometimes. An interesting debate. The threshold varies
for a lot of people. In this case, I think it's pretty obvious. . . I think
it's a timely story that hits a nerve with a lot of creative people.
Here is a screenshot of the unauthorized product being offering (it looks like
the link is inactive / they may have taken it down now):
21 copy cat version