Fashion designer Virgil Abloh has certainly made a name for himself as he started his high-end streetwear brand Off-White design back in 2012 and later went on to becoming Louis Vuitton first African-American menswear artistic designer in 2018.
Since Virgil’s success, his name has been seen on many different build boards and lights. However, this spotlight may not be the type of attention the fashion designer is seeking. July 2019 a company by the name of OffWhite Productions filed a lawsuit against Virgil for allegedly copying their name “OffWhite”. According to the complaint filed in the New York federal court, the company claims that their name “OffWhite” has been registered and trademark since the late 90s and that Virgil’s brand has trademark infringed, as its name is very similar if not considered the same to the New York-based company’s.
OffWhite Productions states that they have publicly done business as “OffWhite since the late 90s” years before Virgil’s brand got its start in 2012. The complaint asserts the production company attempted to reach out to the streetwear brand to ask that Off-White “cease such infringing conduct,” however, Off-White allegedly “refused to alter its conduct whatsoever. Instead, Off-White’s counsel “downplayed the significance of this confusion and advised that his client would not cease its infringement.”
OffWhite Productions further states that since, Virgil has proceeded to file additional applications for various OFF-WHITE trademarks including an entirely new design incorporating the word “OFF” in a graphic arrangement that is arguably similar to a logo used by OffWhite Productions but not registered, which OffWhite Productions say its rival has done in “spite.”
OffWhite Productions claims that Off-White’s “actions have resulted in a likelihood of confusion, actual confusion and reverse confusion,” as well as in dilution of its OFFWHITE trademark. “As a result of [Off-White’s] conduct,” OffWhite Productions says that it “has been ‘delisted’ from the first-level page position in Google searches for the terms ‘OffWhite’ or ‘Off White,’” thereby causing significant harm to its brand and causing internet users to be “routinely referred, not to its website, but to products and services offered by “Off-White” or its collaborators.”
There’s no telling where and how far this suit will go. Given the level of fame associated with Virgil Abloh, it seems unlikely that OffWhite Productions marketing services would be confused with Off-White’s wares. It’s now in the courts’ hands to decide.
Story by: Williametta Garnett