Betsey Johnson is being sued for copyright infringement by Alice + Olivia, after allegedly copying the brand’s ‘StaceFace’ on her handbag line.
The New York City-based company initially sent Johnson and parent company Steve Madden a cease-and-desist letter in February (18), requesting that she stop using the image which is “virtually identical” to the design inspired by Alice + Olivia founder Stacey Bendet, of a woman wearing round sunglasses and sporting red lipstick.
Alice + Olivia claim that the Johnson bags were so “unmistakably similar that the blatant replication compelled the conclusion that the defendants intentionally copied the StaceFace designs to foster confusion and to deceive consumers into believing that the customers were purchasing products originating from A+O.”
In a newly-filed copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition lawsuit, Alice + Olivia claim that after sending the cease-and-desist, they came to an agreement with Johnson, with the “defendants agreeing to stop the manufacture and sale of the products” in March.
However, despite the resolution, Johnson is accused of continuing to use the image in other products. Citing an example from September, Alice + Olivia state that she merely changed the round sunglasses to heart shaped ones, rather than ceasing use of StaceFace all together.
“Minor changes to the defendants’ product (such as changing round glasses to heart shape) do not negate a likelihood of confusion,” the brand’s counsel argue in the papers.
In an email from Madden to Alice + Olivia, they stated that the bag described in the filing “must be part of stock remainders that have made their way through the retail channels”, as they have stopped manufacturing and selling goods with the face on them.
Alice + Olivia is seeking an injunction preventing Johnson from all future use of the StaceFace design, and financial compensation, alleging that Johnson’s “willful and wonton acts (sic) and conduct” have damaged their brand’s “reputation and goodwill”.
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