It is no secret that Virgil Abloh is a master of appropriation. Building his fashion empire with the modern update and reinterpretation of predecessors before him, while the American label of Off-White is wildly successful, it has garnered its own slew of criticism. Whether the company is suing another or it is the subject of a lawsuit, it appears that the company is always in court. In the latest development, Off-White is being sued by New York-based marketing and creative agency, OffWhite. Here we go again.
According to a report from The Fashion Law, the productions company has filed a complaint in New York federal court on Sunday, claiming that Virgil Abloh’s brand hijacked the name of the company that has been in use since the 1990’s. Established 15 years before the launch of the streetwear brand, OffWhite Productions LLC claims that the brand’s name is overly similar to its own federally registered trademark covering “marketing, product design and related services.” SEO practices and public relations exercises have also been effected according to the New York business with their site knocked from the top positions when google searching.
The suit also states that despite “demanding that [Abloh’s similarly-named brand] cease such infringing conduct,” and placing the company on notice of “the specific commercial damage being caused by [its wildly-famous brand],” Off-White refused to alter [its] conduct whatsoever in response to these communications.” This has then resulted in Off-White’s counsel “downplaying” the clear confusion and “has since … proceeded to file additional applications [for various] OFF-WHITE trademarks.”
While its argument is somewhat fair, The Fashion Law made a point that despite similarities, Off-White has almost definitely passed the threshold of being known by consumers whereas the marketing agency is unlikely to gain this sort of attention. Another point that was made was that the products and services provided by both companies were unlikely to get confused for each other. This means that Virgil Abloh’s empire may still reign supreme.
Stay tuned for further developments.