Whether Off-White is doing the chasing or being chased, the Italian label is neck deep in legality issues.
According to a new report from The Fashion Law, the Virgil Abloh-lead brand filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday, seeking to sue jewellery label, Rastaclat. The $18 USD bracelets are said to use red zip-ties and quotation marks in its designs, and is titled “Off-Clat” and/or “Off-Clat c/o Rastaclat” at major retailers like Zumiez, The Finish Line, and Amazon.
The red zip-tie however, is not trademarked and its 2018 application was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in December. Nevertheless Off-White™ is citing that it has amassed “significant common law trademark” in its streetwear reign of six years. According to Off-White, Rastaclat has designed the bracelets to “confuse consumers into believing that [they] are Off-White™ products, and as a result, it is asserting claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition.”
According to the USPTO, the red zip-tie would garner a slew of problems and is “confusingly similar” to at least two already-registered trademarks. Additionally, considering the original use of the zip-tie is for functional purposes, the “matter cannot be protected as a trademark,” and furthermore is “not inherently distinctive.”
The case shares similar characteristics to the continuous legal battle against Supreme New York and Supreme Italia. Sparking the term “legal fakes”, Supreme New York applied for its iconic box logo to be a registered trademark in the European Union, which was later rejected as it was “devoid of distinctive character”. In turn, Italian and Spanish counterfeit labels have created outposts across the globe, selling similar product that is readily available.
Particularly in an age of cult streetwear labels, appropriation and inspired-product has attracted countless law suits, most of which leave the big guys falling short. The question as to whether its immoral or not lies with the consumer.
Stay tuned for further developments.