Forever 21 and Gucci are in a legal battle over some multi-colored stripes

Forever 21 and Gucci are in a legal battle over some multi-colored stripes
A model on the runway with Gucci's signature stripes
Source: Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images
A model on the runway with Gucci's signature stripes
Source: Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images

The retailer Forever 21 isn't exactly known for being the most original. It's been sued for printing an unauthorized photograph of Tupac, for copying Rihanna's shoe designs and for knocking off Harley Davidson's signature logo. And that's all happened in just the past few months.

So needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to learn it's Forever 21 that is filing a lawsuit against the high-end brand Gucci. The design in question? Some alternating, multi-colored stripes.

A Gucci model with the green and red stripes (left) and one of the Forever 21 designs that Gucci is alleging copies their stripe pattern (right)
Source: Mic/Getty Images/Forever 21

In even more of a plot twist, this all started with Gucci sending a cease and desist letter to Forever 21, kindly asking that the brand stop copying Gucci's own stripes. In letters sent in December and in January and February, the brand asked F21 to halt the sale of items with alternating blue-red-blue stripe patterns, and green-red-green stripe patterns, since Gucci does have trademark protection for those particular colored stripe combos. According to the Fashion Law, they've actually had the trademark since 1988.

A model wearing a garment with Gucci's signature blue-red-blue stripes
Source: Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images
A model wearing Gucci's signature blue-red-blue strip pattern
Source: Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images

But rather than comply, Forever 21 has responded by filing a declaratory judgment action against Gucci, asking a federal court in California to declare that they can use these stripe patterns.

"Many clothing and accessory items adorned with decorative stripes colored blue-red-blue or green-red-green are sold by countless third parties," the lawsuit reads. "The colors red, blue, and green, and stripe designs, are among the most favorite, popular and widely used colors and design features on clothing."

One of the Forever21 items that Gucci is alleging copies their own stripe pattern
Source: Forever 21, via the Fashion Law

Because of how popular stripes in these popular colors are, Forever 21 doesn't think Gucci has the right to claim these colored stripes, and they believe they should be free to sell striped products, including bomber jackets, sweaters and chokers, with that particular striped pattern.

In a statement to the Fashion Law, a spokesperson from Gucci said:

"Forever 21's reputation for being accused of profiting from the trademarks and copyrights of others, including Gucci, is well established. ... Now, in an effort to distract from its own blatant infringements, Forever 21 is attempting to attack some of Gucci's most famous and iconic trademarks. This will not deter Gucci from pursuing its own claims against Forever 21 as port of its ongoing commitment to the vigorous protection of its valuable intellectual property rights and distinctive brand identity."

Strangely enough, this isn't the first time that Forever 21 has sued over stripes. In just March, the company sued Adidas after Adidas frequently threatened them with trademark infringement litigation of their own over multi-stripe patterns.

Who will win the Battle of the Stripes? Apparently whoever can out-petty the other.