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American Eagle Alleges Walmart Copied Back Pocket Jeans Design

The back pocket design of a jean is a hallmark for many brands, and it is at the crux of a new intellectual property lawsuit between American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Walmart.

The teen denim speciality retailer claims Walmart is selling women’s jeans with the brand’s distinct back pocket design.

According to legal documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AEO claims its reputation for high-quality denim is being threatened by Walmart, which is selling the similar jeans at a lower price than the original.

The case, which claims violation of trademark law, was filed on March 25 at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, where AEO is headquartered.

In the lawsuit, the company notes that Walmart’s design is already causing confusion, with influencers and consumers explicitly calling out the similarities on social media.

“These public expressions of actual confusion are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” AEO wrote in the legal documents. “Yet despite being placed on express notice of AEO’s trademark rights and objections, Walmart continues to market, promote, advertise and sell the infringing products.”

AEO stated that it has spent millions of dollars on branding to establish its rank in the industry. The company is asking Walmart to stop selling the jeans, destroy any remaining inventory and hand over the money generated from the alleged knockoffs.

Walmart responded to the allegations, stating that it did not create the design and that it plans to fight the case.

The denim industry has seen similar claims go to court, mainly by Levi’s. In 2018, Levi’s sued French luxury house Kenzo for putting tabs on its clothing similar to the one the San Francisco brand has trademarked. Over the years, the storied denim brand has also filed infringement lawsuits against Vineyard Vines, Von Dutch Originals and Rock & Republic for details like tabs and signature stitches.