Gee Whillickers!

A Pocketful of Lawsuits

A Pocketful of Lawsuits

The 133-year-old design for the Levi’s jeans pocket has become the subject of numerous lawsuits in the fashion arena.

Levi Strauss claims that its trademark pocket design – two intersecting arcs and a cloth tab in the vertical seam – has been ripped off by its many competitors to the detriment of Levi’s sales. Since 2001, the company has filed nearly 100 lawsuits against its competitors. Nearly all of the case have been settled out of court. Apparently, it’s not about the money to be gained from the suits – one was settled for just $5,000. It’s about removing copycats from the marketplace, according to a Levi’s spokesperson.

Jeans manufacturers openly concede that Levi’s has served as their inspiration. As the founder of Silver Jeans stated, “They should be happy that people are copying them.” Levi’s is not flattered. Instead, they now employ 40 “denim detectives” across the world who scour boutiques for Levi’s pocket knock-offs.

Gee Whillickers!

Release Forms? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Release Forms.

Teaster's Choice

In 1986, model Russell Christoff posed for a two-hour photo shoot for Taster’s Choice coffee, a brand purveyed by Nestle USA. Christoff was paid $200 for his work but never signed the photo release form granting permission to use his image. Sixteen years later, much to his surprise, he stumbled across his likeness on a coffee jar while shopping at a drug store. Christoff picked up the jar and showed it to a female employee of the store who exclaimed, “Wow! That’s you!” Christoff replied, “Thank you. I will take this jar!” and headed straight to an attorney.

It turns out that Nestle had been selling the freeze-dried coffee featuring his face since 1986 in Canada and to U.S. and international markets since 1997. In February of 2009, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury ordered Nestle to pay Christoff $15.6 million, which included five percent of the profits earned from product sales between 1997 and 2003.

Asked why Christoff didn’t spot his image sooner, he replied, “I don’t buy Taster’s Choice. I do beans.” After his payoff for the most expensive photo shoot in history, he can now buy the whole plantation.

Coincidence? We Don’t Think So!

When pictures, music or writing are “borrowed without permission,” it’s pretty obvious, but design is a more ethereal sort of thing. The line between inspiration and violation can be fuzzy and very grey. Judge for yourself. vs.
Rigney Graphics designed and launched Atkinson-Baker’s website in January of 2008.
Another court reporting competitor launched this site in June of 2009.

That site’s designers state in a marketing message on their website, “We make sure our designs are visually attractive and revenue driven.” We couldn’t agree more with their selection of our designs to fulfill that promise.

Inspired Ideas!

Apple iPod Nano - 2006

ORIGINAL? – 2006
Apple Ipod Nano

Sony MP3 Readers - 2007

Sony MP3 readers