Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wal-Mart Sued for Copycatting

According to Anthropologie, a Philadelphia-based clothing store whose parent company is Urban Outfitters, Wal-Mart illegally copied various patented designs. The designs were featured in last month’s Vogue where Wal-Mart bought a multi-page spread to show readers it can be upscale as well. According to Newsday’s Lauren Weber:

With a splashy fashion show and an advertising spread in September's Vogue magazine, Wal-Mart lately is trumpeting its desire to be a contender for space in the closets of America's style mavens.

But the company's efforts to reposition itself as a purveyor of hip threads - ground it once ceded to rival Target - has attracted some negative attention, in the form of a lawsuit from the retail chain Anthropologie.

In a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Anthropologie and its parent company, Urban Outfitters, allege that Wal-Mart copied several fabrics designed by Anthropologie.

The suit charges Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, with copyright infringement, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition.
Though the designs may be the same the prices surely aren’t:

The complaint singles out one Wal-Mart product, a skirt from the company's George brand, called "Women's Plus Floral Border Skirt." That skirt is on sale on Wal-Mart's Web site for $12 (down from $16.92); on Anthropologie's Web site, most skirts retail in the range of $100 to $250.
Maybe Anthropologie needs to follow Wal-Mart’s lead and begin making its floral skirts in Bangladeshi sweatshops. Then again Anthrpologie would be facing a lawsuit of its own, for having suppliers that systematically mistreat their workers.