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Puma and Forever 21 Settle Patent Suit Over Fenty Products

Puma and Forever 21 have settled their legal dispute over questionable patents surrounding several popular Puma x Fenty products, saving both companies from a potentially lengthy and costly trial. The settlement is pending acceptance by the California judge overseeing the case.

Puma sued Forever 21 back in April 2017 claiming patent, copyright and trade dress infringements. At the center of the lawsuit was Rihanna’s Puma x Fenty lineup of footwear—including the famous Creeper sneaker and two styles of Fenty slides. The suit accused Forever 21 of selling similar products, “seeking to trade on the substantial goodwill of Puma, Rihanna and Fenty Shoes.”

The case came to an end after the filing of a Stipulation to Dismiss Case motion on Wednesday. Details of the settlement were not disclosed, but due to the nature of the dismissal, Puma is not permitted to refile the lawsuit and is required to pay all court fees and legal costs it incurred from the suit.

Trouble for Puma began when a district judge agreed with Forever 21’s argument that Puma had misrepresented basic facts regarding the creation of the patents under consideration, forcing Puma to defend itself against accusations of patent fraud as a function of the prosecution.

To further compel matters, Forever 21’s allegation put Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, under scrutiny as the court began to publicly question whether the superstar fashion mogul was actually involved in the creation of the footwear Puma patented—a substantial factor in Puma’s patent defense.

Fenty’s collaboration with Puma has driven headlines for both brands, and Puma named Rihanna as its new creative director and global ambassador for women’s training in 2014. Although the partnership ended recently, admitting the style icon was not actively involved in the creation of the Puma x Fenty collection would not have have been ideal for either organization.

Finally, Forever 21 last month filed a motion to dismiss, which alleged Puma not only had committed fraud by misrepresenting facts about the creation of its products but also that the brand had fraudulently patented styles Forever 21 lawyers called “the narrowest of its kind.” The retailer pointed to examples of the Creeper being produced as far back as the 1940s and claimed the patents in question did not cover the “ornamental design choices” and were too broad to be used as the deciding factor in the case.

The settlement followed shortly thereafter.

While Puma’s legal dispute with Forever 21 over its Fenty’s collaboration may be over, Puma is still defending itself against a separate lawsuit filed last month by Freedom United alleging Fenty had stolen its distinguishing “FU” slogan and used it for products in the Puma lineup. Meanwhile, Puma is also locked in a three-way legal battle with Nike and Adidas as each seeks to take credit for the advent of the knitted cloth upper in sneaker production.

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