Shein Faces Lawsuit for Copying Independent Designers’ Works, Allegations Include Racketeering and Unethical Business Practices

Shein Faces Lawsuit Accusing Company of Copying Designs

Fashion retailer Shein is facing a new lawsuit filed by three independent designers who allege that the company copied their works without authorization and sold them on its website. The designers, Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez, and Jay Baron, accuse Shein of violating the federal anti-racketeering act, RICO. The complaint, filed in a California federal district court, claims that Shein’s unethical business practices extend beyond design theft, including damaging the environment, fostering unsafe working conditions, and evading taxes.

Lawyers representing the designers argue that Shein has engaged in a continuous pattern of racketeering, consistently infringing on the intellectual property rights of artists. The lawsuit highlights specific instances where Shein allegedly stole the works of the designers without their knowledge or consent. For example, Krista Perry’s copyrighted graphic design featuring the words “make it fun” on a pink background was reportedly sold as wall art on Shein’s website. Additionally, Shein is accused of appropriating a floral blanket design by Perry and a name tag-style patch that says “Hello I’m Trying My Best” by Jay Baron.

The designers claim that Shein’s actions have caused substantial damage to their businesses, including the diversion of trade, loss of profits, and damage to their reputations. Shein Distribution Corp., Roadget, and Zoetop are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Shein Distribution is based in Delaware, while Roadget and Zoetop, located in Singapore and Hong Kong respectively, own Shein’s trademarks and operate its mobile apps and websites.

Shein has faced similar accusations of design theft in the past. However, legal disputes in the fashion industry can be challenging to settle due to the limited copyright protections available for clothing and other “useful” items. Despite this, the lawyers representing the designers are fighting for more appropriate remedies. Attorney Jeff Gluck, who is representing the designers in this lawsuit, expressed hope for a successful outcome that will benefit the global art and design communities that have long battled against Shein’s alleged infringement practices.

The allegations against Shein suggest a systemic problem within the company’s business model. By decentralizing its structure, Shein seeks to avoid liability and make it harder to hold a specific entity accountable. This tactic, coupled with a lack of robust copyright protections for certain fashion items, has allowed the company to continue its alleged pattern of unethical behavior.

The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications not just for Shein and the designers involved but also for the wider art and design industries. By addressing these allegations head-on, the hope is that meaningful change can be achieved in combating design theft and protecting the rights of independent artists.