More American Apparel – Insult to Injury?


Another layer of intrigue in the ongoing Zalez/American Apparel dispute. A second set of images shows that in addition to the alleged “borrowing” of the garment design by American Apparel, there may also have been a concerted effort to approximate Zalez’s photoshoot styling and general advertising of the piece at issue. See below for a comparison (Zalez is on the left, American Apparel is on the right):

Comparison of advertising images from Zalez and American Apparel

Comparison of advertising images from Zalez and American Apparel



Et tu, American Apparel?


American Apparel is known for championing the rights of the domestic worker, producing their products here in the United States of America, and employing provocative and risque advertising. Should they also be known as copyists?

As discussed elsewhere on this site, the silhouette or shape of a garment is not yet protectable under United States law (though it is protectable in certain other countries). So, while a graphic design or textile design used on a garment is generally subject to protection, the actual shape of the garment is not. Does this lack of protection, though, give a major company free rein to “borrow” the cuts and silhouettes from others in the industry?

We have received word that one of American Apparel’s new garments appears to be heavily influenced by a design offered by Zalez Studio. Do you see the resemblance? Is this “inspiration” or outright copying or something else?


Top Image: Zalez Studio (photo credit to Zalez Studio web site)

Bottom Image: American Apparel (photo credit to American Apparel web site)





This one concerns a squirrel, namely this little feller:Design is Kinky

Mr. Squirrel here was used by ‘design is kinky’ as their logo. Another individual came across this squirrel in some way and decided to engage in some animal adoption (or so it appears, it is possible that he independently created his squirrel, or obtained authorization). This case highlights the fact that logos, which are usually protected by trademark law, can also be protected by copyright law if they are creative and artistic and somewhat original.



Here is one for you. I think the most blatant violation is that his “logo” which he sells on hats and bags  is stolen 1 for 1 from

Here is the website where he sells “mashups” of existing logos:


Take a look, was this little fellow squirrel-napped?

What You Need to Know to Litigate Your Copyright Claim

ATTORNEY SCOTT’S CAVEAT: This information is for educational use and personal edification only, and does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it create an attorney-client or any other relationship between ATTORNEYSCOTT and any visitors to this site.



AND IT BEGINS – you have been knocked-off. You are sure of it, no doubt about it, some jerk has found your work, desired it, and decided to make it their own. Now, they are offering products bearing that art for sale, and passing it off as their own. What to do, what to do? Below is a break-down of the different steps in the pre-litigation and litigation processes.

I. First things first – are you registered?

You get copyrights in your work once you “fix it in a tangible medium” – legal mumbo-jumbo that means when you write it or paint it or record it or so on. At that point your rights accrue, and you can stop others from copying your work. BUT, to get through the courthouse door you need a copyright registration, which differs from your copyrights. We will discuss applying for and obtaining a registration in another post. Once you have submitted your application for registration, you are ready for the next step, filing your copyright action in federal court.

II. The lawsuit papers

Check back in for the second installment in this ongoing series.


The Congdon/Foster Plot Thickens


Well, we all reviewed the material related to the claims by Lisa Congdon that Cody Foster stole her work, and most of us came to the conclusion that Foster was a no-good company that had brazenly misappropriated the designs of Congdon. Now, however, comes stunning new evidence that suggests that Congdon’s hands may not necessarily be squeaky clean.

As long-time readers of this site know, the marketing of a new work by using an underlying work is only permissible with the permission of the creator of the underlying work. Otherwise, the artist for this derivative work would have protection only for what was added to the work and would not be able to monetize the work in its entirety.  The photographs that were apparently used as source material by Congdon have not yet been authenticated, and it is unclear as to whether she obtained consent before using them, but if they are authentic and she did not obtain consent it could pose issues for any case she might bring.

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])

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