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Designer parody tees were all the rage a few seasons back, with major labels including Chanel, Celine, Hermes and Saint Laurent getting the satire treatment. But as it turns out, the brands aren’t amused.
Luxury Goods International (LGI), the company that owns the trademarks of Yves Saint Laurent, is now suing Jeanine Heller, founder of New York-based clothing line What About Yves for trademark infringement. The long list of complaints includes trademark dilution, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. In the suit, filed in New York’s Southern District, YSL claims that Heller attempted to pass of her merchandise “in a manner calculated to deceive Plaintiff’s customers.”
But this isn’t Heller’s first rodeo with New York’s judicial system. In addition to a 2014 suit filed by Chanel for similar trademark infringement charges, Heller was also arrested for violating an order of protection filed by Orange is the New Black actress Taryn Manning in September 2014 following accusations of harassment and stalking. She was then sentenced to 45 days in jail followed by inpatient psychiatric treatment. A back-and-forth between Heller and Manning alleges that Heller threatened Manning and even posted a manifesto about the actress on Reddit. So there’s that.
Heller began selling her “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” shirts in January 2013 following Hedi Slimane‘s 2012 decision to drop “Yves” from the name of the classic French label. The brand claims that Heller ignored its repeated attempts to notify her of the infringing nature of the shirts and continued to sell the tees on her website as well as in well-known boutiques including Paris’ Collette.
In April 2013 Heller went on to have her “Aint Laurent Without Yves” shirts trademarked (though the US Patent Office initially challenged the application, noting a hefty similarity to YSL), and in 2014 finally got in touch with YSL — offering to sell them the rights to her slogan. How nice of her.
It looks as though Heller must enjoy spending time in court rooms, as the latest “design” to pop up on her What About Yves web store is an identical copy of Diesel’s “Reboot” boob T-shirt.
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