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Balenciaga Asserts It’s Okay To Copy NYC Souvenir Bag And Sell It At US$1,950
By Mikelle Leow, 12 Oct 2018
Images via Farfetch
In July, established souvenir company City Merchandise, Inc. sued Balenciaga over the claim that the luxury brand had ripped off the “total concept and feel” of its tote bags and purse, which can be found in souvenir gift shops in NYC.
Balenciaga’s high-end knockoff, the ‘Multicolored New York Bazar Shopper’, is part of its Resort 2018 collection and retails at US$1,950.
In its filing, City Merchandise detailed the similarities of the bags’ artworks, such as the, “whimsical and appealing layouts and arrangements, compilations and/or collages, skyline perspectives, depicted objects and environmental elements, color schemes and shading, highlighting and bordering, shapes and sizes.”
Balenciaga responded to the complaint on 20 September, refuting any fault in the case.
The luxury brand defended that City Merch’s copyrighted works were “invalid and/or unenforceable” as the “elements of works… are scènes à faire, are otherwise not original, or are otherwise not protectable by the copyright asserted in the Complaint,” as quoted by fashion blog The Fashion Law.
For the uninitiated, scènes à faire is a legal doctrine that rejects copyright protection over “expressions that are standard, stock, or common to a particular topic… theme or setting… unless they are expressed in a creative way.”
In other words, Balenciaga claims that the NYC skyline in City Merch’s products is quintessential and “standard” of the city, since the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Freedom Tower spring to mind at the mention of it. Thus, it asserts that City Merch’s artworks cannot be protected.
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 Klein (@alyssavingan) February 25, 2018
Screenshot via US District Court
[via The Fashion Law, images via various sources]
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