Amongst the many unpleasant things Urban Outfitters are linked to ( see here), they also rip of Etsy designs.
Etsy is (according to Google) “e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items, supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items”.
In 2011, Urban Outfitters copied the design of an independent jewellery designer without any permission (or informing her).
Oscar Michelen, an intellectual property and copyright attorney at Cuomo LLC in New York who is not involved in this case, but has represented several similar cases, said design infringement claims are very popular.
“Normally these cases are only enforceable if the artist has a patent or trademark on their design,” he said. However, Michelen doesn’t think this would be a strong case should Koerner decide to pursue legal action. “There is nothing unique about using a shape of Florida and a heart,” he said.
In fact, two years ago, Koerner looked into protecting her designs, but lawyers told her that the shape of a state cannot be legally protected, she said.
While the lawsuit might be inconsequential to a company the size of Urban Outfitters, the bad publicity could be potentially harmful, said Michelen. He said, often times the company receiving the negative publicity will approach the claimant with a financial settlement in exchange for a confidentiality agreement that bars them from voicing their complaints publicly.
Interestingly, there was huge social media support for the designer – see here for more info.