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Shein accused of copying independent designers in US lawsuit

Shein has been accused of racketeering and copyright infringement from independent designers in a new US lawsuit.

The lawsuit which was filed last week in California federal court, accused the fast-fashion retailer of using “selective algorithms” to identify fashion trends and allegedly reproduce the designs for its site.

As a result, Shein’s “first line of defence” when facing copyright or trademark cease-and-desist is “removing the product from its sites by blaming the misconduct on another [Shein entity] actor (implying such actor is independent).”

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According to The Fashion Law, the company also used a “confusing corporate structure” allowing it to get around theft accusations and “avoid liability”.

In the suit, artists Perry, Martinez and Baron claimed Shein replicated “truly exact copies of [their] copyrightable graphic designs”. This included Berry’s artwork titled “Make It Fun”, Blintz’s “Orange Daises” design and Barron’s “Trying My Best” artwork.

The artists argued in the lawsuit: “The brand has made billions by creating a secretive algorithm that astonishingly determines nascent fashion trends – and by coupling it with a corporate structure, including production and fulfilment schemes, that are perfectly executed to grease the wheels of the algorithm, including its unsavoury and illegal aspects.

“When Shein copies a small or independent designer, the most likely outcome (without brand protection specialists and specialised software on the lookout) is that the infringement will go unnoticed”, the complaint added.

However, In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for Shein said it “takes all claims of infringement seriously, and we take swift action when complaints are raised by valid IP rights holders

“We will vigorously defend ourselves against this lawsuit and any claims that are without merit,” they added.

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