Encino, Calif.-based clothing company Freedom United filed a lawsuit in New York federal court Oct. 17 against Rihanna, her Fenty Corp. organization and Puma NA, the music star’s fashion partner. The case accuses the companies of unfair competition and copyright infringement against Freedom United’s federally registered “FU Mark.”
“[Freedom United] has recently learned that defendants are using the confusingly similar trademark ‘F.U.’ for directly competitive clothing products, which infringes the FU Marks,” Freedom United claimed in its suit. “Moreover, [its] physical products are confusingly similar in appearance to [ours] and were only marketed and sold after defendants had actual knowledge of [our] products, and in particular the FU Marks.”
In its 30-page filing, Freedom United states that it has sold roughly $1 million worth of clothing, accessories, skin care products and drinks bearing its FU label and that it counts numerous celebrities as fans, including Rihanna. To support its claim that the singer and her team had previous knowledge of Freedom United, the company presents photos and digital communications showing the singer and members of her team, including business partner Jennifer Rosales Davis and her family, wearing the products and interacting with CEO Greg Carney.
In explanation for its suit, the firm stated, “Because plaintiff’s and defendants’ goods are competitive, consumers will mistakenly assume that such goods and their sources are associated or affiliated. Such as result significantly undermines [Freedom United’s] substantial efforts to establish its identity in the highly competitive fashion world.”
Rihanna and Puma announced their fashion partnership in December 2014 and together created several splashy apparel, footwear and accessories collections that sold at major retail accounts including Foot Locker, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom Rack. Their most recent collection debuted at New York Fashion in September 2017.
Freedom United is seeking an injunction to prevent the companies from manufacturing, distributing or selling any products featuring the F.U. mark and also is requesting monetary damages, including all profits resulting from the sale of the infringing merchandise.
Puma did not respond requests for comment as of press time.