Jeanswest might fit best, but it’s not so good at being a copycat. The Australian retail chain has been pulled up for ripping off a pair of biker jeans by mega Dutch clothing brand G-Star Raw, and will pay up big for its wrong-doing.
Inside Retail reports that yesterday, February 18, Justices Ellen France, Tony Randerson and John Wild granted a permanent injunction on Jeanswest’s Dean Biker Slim Jean, and was ordered by New Zealand’s Court of Appeal to pay G-Star additional damages of $50,000 after being found liable for primary infringement. “The net result is a substantial success for G-Star,” the written judgment by the appeal court judges said.
Jeanswest launched a limited run of the Dean Biker jean in Australia and New Zealand simultaneously in January 2010, and claims the jeans were inspired by how the rain had stretched out a motorcyclist’s pants over his knees. But, according to G-Star’s claim, a French designer working for the Dutch brand came up with the design for the Elwood jeans in 1995, going on to become a signature product which sold millions worldwide.
Jeanswest’s style, which was $34.99 in comparison to G-Star’s Elwood jeans priced between $260 and $310, was on sale for almost two years before G-Star took action. Back then, in October 2013, the High Court’s Justice Paul Heath found Jeanswest guilty of secondary, rather than primary, infringement of G-Star’s copyright and ordered an injunction preventing further infringement.
G-Star was awarded damages of $325, which was the amount Jeanswest had made selling 62 of the 63 Dean Biker jeans it had imported into New Zealand. The conclusion was made on the grounds that Jeanswest did not infringe Australian copyright laws, just those in New Zealand, by selling a design with four of the five (with the fifth deliberately left off) main features of G-Star’s Elwood design.
Both companies were unhappy with the outcome, seeing Jeanswest appeal the decision and G-Star cross-appeal which led the court to the outcome this week. $325 is a lot less than $50,000, just saying…
Almost a year after the hearing, NZ Herald reported that Clive Elliot QC, counsel for Jeanswest New Zealand, argued there was no infringement on copyright laws in New Zealand as production was happening offshore. “These goods were perfectly OK until they were sent to New Zealand … And as they crossed he border they changed from a perfectly good product to a product that infringed,” Elliot said. “It’s about the ethics and culture of the company… And they had a genuine belief what they were making was fine.”
Who knew double-denim could be so ugly?