Puma loses legal bid against Forever 21 over Rihanna’s shoes collection

“Intellectual property holders should be able to rely on U.S. courts to enforce their rights immediately when there has been harm and clear infringement. This is especially necessary in the fashion industry where trends are most valuable in the short term and infringers take advantage of this time frame.” 

This is the statement of Puma after California federal judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction barring retailer Forever 21 Inc. from selling shoes that Puma SE claims are knockoffs of a line made in collaboration with pop star Rihanna.

Demand for certain Puma products has been enormous since the German sportswear brand tapped Rihanna to collaborate on a collection of sportswear-inspired garments and accessories beginning in late 2014. Not only did the partnership spawn a handful of sold-out collections for Puma, demand for the parties’ footwear, in particular, has been evidenced further by the amount of Fenty x Puma counterfeits and knock-offs that have hit the market in recent years.

Puma faces off against Forever 21, over the Los Angeles-based fast fashion giant’s sale of what Puma alleges are “line-for-line copies of three of the most prominent footwear designs from Rihanna’s collection for Puma in an attempt to trade on the substantial goodwill of Puma, Rihanna, and the Fenty shoes.”

Puma pressured the court to get Forever 21’s suede creeper sneaker off the market, referring Forever 21 as a “serial infringer.” The suit also seeks to keep Forever 21 from continuing to sell a slide sandal with fur or a knotted satin bow across the top portion of the slide. Puma points out the ridged sole of the creeper sneaker are identical. According to Puma, Forever 21’s designs are near exact copies of designs from Rihanna’s Fenty label for the company.

Puma has likewise asked the court for an immediate injunction, which would require Forever 21 to stop selling the infringing products at once. Forever 21, consequently, pushed back hard against Puma. The fast-fashion hub argues that the athletic brand’s designs are common, were not original, and used “classic designs.” The athletic brand’s designs are unoriginal, Forever 21 claims, and the lawsuit is an “attempt to shut down legitimate competition.”

In its June 5, 2017 ruling, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez said that Puma’s efforts to prove it was being “irreparably harmed” by Forever 21’s products were not nearly enough to win the “extraordinary and drastic remedy” of a preliminary injunction.

The ruling is a big win for Forever 21, which would have been forced to pull the allegedly infringing shoes from shelves if Puma’s request had been granted. It is also not unusual for trademark cases to turn more on preliminary injunction proceedings than actual full merits litigation.

IPDEL.COM will not tolerate any form of counterfeits in the market such as this in the future. IPDEL can offer innovative an anti-counterfeiting solution and by facilitating in the identification and elimination of key counterfeit offenders, in a most effective, efficient and practical way.