Apparel sold considered to be rip-offs to Off-White designs.
American designer and ex-artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear Virgil Abloh has accused Afters Ice Cream of copyright infringement. The Californian ice-cream company released a range of merchandise featuring the distinctive designs deemed similar to Off-White’s apparel, replacing the words ‘Off-White’ with ‘Off-Diet’. According to Off-White, the merchandise bears incredible likeness to Off-White’s established trademarks, which may ‘confuse consumers into believing that [their] products are Off-White products and/or that [the] business is affiliated with Off-White’. However, it has been reported that there is no existing relationship between the two companies.
The most poignant of Off-White’s accusations is the use of diagonal lines in the merchandise offered by Afters. Off-White considers the striping design as a strong, recognisable trademark of the brand:
‘The Off-White brand has been recognized for its distinctive graphic and logo-heavy apparel designs, including a unique design mark comprised of alternating parallel diagonal lines, which has been used on or in connection with Off-White products since at least as early as 2013.’
It has been disclosed that Off-White has 10 active trademarks for designs detailing various stylisations of parallel lines.
The question remains if Afters is merely riding off the coattails of Off-White’s success. A quick look into the history of its released merchandise however, tells us a different story. The ice cream company previously sold merchandise based on renowned streetwear brand Anti Social Social Club by placing a clever twist on ASSC’s renowned trademarks – renamed as the ‘Anti Diet Diet Club’. Afters also parodied Kanye West’s line of clothing with the slogans ‘Sundae Service’ in place of West’s own Sunday Service. No copyright infringement accusations have been made against Afters, not by ASSC nor Kanye West.
Infringing copyright is undoubtedly an offence but on the other hand, parodying is ultimately not. Off-White must prove that Afters acted ‘in bad faith’ to emerge as winners in the lawsuit. Should Afters defend their actions as a form of commentary, satire or mockery of Off-White for public amusement, the high-end streetwear brand might find itself struggling to demonstrate the infringing activities accused of Afters.
Abloh has previously been accused of appropriating the creations of indie designers on several occasions. Ironically, Off-White has also been sued by Norwegian sportswear brand Helly Hansen in 2018 for trademark infringement. (source)
The outcome of the lawsuit has yet to be determined.
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