San Diego – American clothing retailer ‘Forever 21’ is threatening to file a lawsuit against fashion blogger Rachel Kane for trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition and dilution of the ‘Forever 21’ brand. ’Forever 21’ is an American company with locations in twenty countries offering reasonably priced apparel and accessories to young men and women.
Kane, who publishes a fashion blog called WTForever21.com, has until June 10 to take down the site. WTForever21.com is a blog that offers comical commentary on what Kane perceives as fashion faux pas by Forever 21. She pokes fun at particular clothing items that she finds ugly or ridiculous and often ends her posts with the phrase: “Forever 21, WTF?”. In a post about the store’s Loop Yarn Sweater Vest, Kane wrote, “Guacamole and vomit stains will blend right the eff into this doodoo colored thing.”
The cease and desist letter sent by a trademark lawyer for ‘Forever 21’ claims that the name of the blog “refers to an abbreviation for colloquial expression that the general public may find offensive, and such colloquial expression is being used in conjunction with our Company’s name, registered trademark, and domain name.” Kane insists that she is only being playful as she practices her First Amendment rights and is, in fact, a big fan of the clothing giant. “Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE ‘Forever 21’, she posted in her blog. “Most of my closet is comprised with their tasteful, trendy and totally awesome selections. But every now and then, something goes horribly awry.”
Kane’s site does mention that it is not affiliated in any way with ‘Forever 21’. That made no difference to ‘21’, who promises to sue if the blog doesn’t come down. The company did, however, laude her “indicated patronage” and claim that they respect one’s right to express his/her opinion.
While this isn’t a slam-dunk case for Forever 21, it is generally a bad idea to use another company’s trademark in your own domain name. The reason is that it can very easily lead to at least initial interest confusion which is actionable. Overall the merits may not matter much because we suspect that Ms. Kane will be more willing to change her blog name than fight a large corporation.