Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is suing fast-fashion rival Shein for copyright infringement in Hong Kong.
The litigation has been underway since 2021. The defendants in the lawsuit include Zoetop Business Co., the Hong Kong-based entity that previously owned Shein, and Shein Group Ltd.
According to a spokesperson from H&M, Shein has infringed on their designs in multiple instances. As of now, Shein has chosen not to comment on the ongoing litigation.
H&M is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to prevent Shein from further infringing on its copyright and trademarks. H&M claims that Shein has copied its designs in multiple cases, and they have provided evidence, including photos of dozens of items from swimwear to sweaters, to support their claim, according to a Bloomberg report.
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Shein has faced several allegations of intellectual property infringement in the past few years, but H&M's action is notable as it represents an established fast-fashion competitor filing a lawsuit. Despite Shein's lower sales compared to H&M in 2021, the company's rapid growth and strong digital marketing strategies drew attention from companies and designers in western markets.
The case was heard for the first time in the Hong Kong High Court in September of 2022, and the judge allowed it to proceed. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 31 July.
It's worth noting that Shein has also been involved in legal battles with other companies. In the US, Shein sued Chinese-owned online retailer Temu last year for trademark and copyright infringement, as well as alleged "false and deceptive business practices." Temu responded with a countersuit, accusing Shein of violating antitrust laws through threats and intimidation to prevent clothing manufacturers from working with Temu.
Some American lawyers have even accused the company of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, claiming that Shein's intellectual property theft is a central aspect of its business model, and the company typically settles with designers by offering small cash settlements.
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