Off-White isn’t playing around anymore. News has emerged that the Milan-based brand led by Virgil Abloh is suing a brand for copying its use of quotation marks and plastic zip ties on clothing and accessories.
According to The Fashion Law, Off-White filed the suit in federal court in Angeles, where it accused Rastaclat of manufacturing and selling a braided shoelace bracelet detailed with the word “shoelace” and adorned with a red zip tie.
Priced at $18, the bracelets are branded with the name Off-Clat and Off-Clat c/o Rastaclat and are sold at retailers including Zumiez, The Finish Line, and Amazon.
The Los Angeles-based Rastaclat, was founded by Kenyan-born and Long Beach, California-raised Daniel Kasidi in 2010. The company is known for its close association with sneaker culture and has created multiple bracelets meant to coordinate with popular sneakers. At the same time, the brand has also contended with knock off versions of its product.
According to The Fashion Law, the bracelets “violate [Off-White’s] exclusive rights” to the use of quote marks and the plastic red zip tie as a distinct design mark. Off-White hasn’t registered either the quotation marks or the zip tie, but is claiming “significant common law trademark” accumulated over the course of the brand’s six years in business.
According to the suit, “Retailers, retail buyers, consumers and members of the public have become familiar with Off-White products and Off-White marks and associate [these things] exclusively with Off-White.”
While Off-White doesn’t have a trademark for the red zip tie, it’s in the midst of attempting to obtain one. When it filed to register the red zip with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2018, the application was rejected because it’s too similar to two other trademarks. As well, claiming the red color as part of the trademark wasn’t viewed as “inherently distinctive” enough.
It is now up to Off-White to prove to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the brand’s red zip tie has attained distinctiveness with consumers.
Rastaclat is one among many companies Off-White is in the midst for suing for copying key Off-White design elements. Last year in April, it was revealed by Fashion Week Daily the brand was suing 160 brands selling on wish.com.
In a February 2017 lecture at Columbia University, Abloh professed his appreciation for copycats. Said Abloh, “I love counterfeits, it’s the best feedback. It’s better than a great review on Vogue. If it’s working to the point in which other people can profit, that means it’s really working. You’re not taking anything away from me, you’re actually advertising more.”
At the time, the brand’s was in the beginning stages of its explosion into a globally popular brand. Clearly as the size of the brand grew so did the number of brand’s offering counterfeits, which forced a change in Abloh’s view on their impact.