leopard-print.jpgLos Angeles – Fashion apparel retailer J.Crew is being sued by Tony Duquette, Inc. for trademark infringement.  The clothing chain allegedly has taken the internationally acclaimed designer’s proprietary leopard print design and moniker to brand its line of cardigans as the “Duquette Factory Leopard Print” sweater.

The lawsuit accuses J.Crew of willful misconduct because it used the Duquette trademark without permission or any licensing agreement for use in its cardigan sweater line.  The complaint also claims that Crew capitalized on the now-deceased artist and designer‘s exclusive association with the leopard print design.  In the 1950’s, Mr. Duquette created the leopard print design for fabric, wallpaper, carpet, clothing, and furniture and according to Duquette attorneys,“still remains such a defining and recurring element” of Duquette history that consumers associate the design with Duquette products.  The company currently licenses the designs to Jim Thompson, Inc. for a collection of woven textiles, and to Roubini, Inc. for use in carpets and tapestries.

Duquette, Inc. took issue with the fact that its signature leopard print design is now associated with J.Crew and its marketing ads.  For example, the cardigan sweater is the first result in a Google search for “Duquette Leopard Print”. 

It appears to us that J.Crew may have some defenses to make with regard to the leopard print design.  However, without regard to the use of the Duquette trademark without authorization, that one is a head scratcher for sure.  Perhaps someone at J.Crew forgot to run it by legal?