Balenciaga Settles With Souvenir Merchandise Distributor in Tote Design Copyright Infringement Claim
As we approach 2019, everyone is engaging in composing reflective lists on what transpired over the last 12 months, with fashion yet again registering as one of the most debated matters. According to Lyst, Balenciaga has won favor this year for its ability to “disrupt timelines and dress codes,” qualities that catapulted it to distinction as one of 2018’s hottest brands. That status, then, guarantees that some will see the luxury fashion house as a firebrand, with City Merchandise having done just that this summer. Roughly three-and-a-half months after the two seemed poised to engage in a contentious courtroom battle over the souvenir merchandise distributor’s supposition that Balenciaga had violated a copyright to hawk pricey tote bags and purses, the parties settled out of court, although the defendant could still end up facing a judge if said settlement “is not fully effectuated” in due time.
That preceding point will likely not matter much, if at all, since one could reasonably assume the would-be-courtroom combatants will not have any additional gripes and that Balenciaga will part with whatever funds it must, presuming that its overseers acknowledged unavoidable similarities between City Merchandise’s pink collage design bag and its aforementioned goods. We cannot be completely sure on that likelihood, given that the agreement terms will remain confidential, but since Balenciaga has often needed to defend its design output against claims of copyright and trademark infringement, it is likely that the company copped to some guilt in this matter.
Left: A souvenir NYC tote bag in the JFK airport gift shop. Right: The Balenciaga version that’s retailing for $1950 right now. Demna, you sly dog! pic.twitter.com/dWG2Q3R3pP
— Alyssa Vingan (@alyssavingan) February 25, 2018
If so, it could not only serve as a victory for a little entity over a behemoth powerhouse. But it could also, if the specific details were not hush-hush, influence the outcome of another legal squabble—that of Balenciaga versus the CAR-FRESHNER Corporation with respect to the latter’s tree designs that the luxury fashion house allegedly swiped to sell $275 keychains.
From a promotional products standpoint, we certainly wish we could see the terms of the agreement between Balenciaga and City Merchandise, as the more well-known business certainly seemed on the defensive when details emerged in July and August. Balenciaga fought back in late September, but we wonder if it proved convincing enough to encourage City Merchandise to pull back. Either way, the matter showed that distributors cannot lie down if they feel someone has intruded upon protected designs or goods. As far as Balenciaga is concerned, esteemed or not, we have a feeling we have not seen the last of the contentions that it takes too liberally from existing products to conceive its own.