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Freedom United Sues Rihanna’s Fenty Corp., Puma Over ‘FU’ Adorned Apparel

Nothing says “FU” quite like a lawsuit.

Puma’s collaboration with Rihanna and the pop star’s eponymous organization Fenty (her full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty), has caught the ire of Freedom United’s lawyers over products branded “Fenty University” sold by Puma with a similarly styled trademark to their client’s apparel.

Freedom United often emblazons its clothing and accessories with a somewhat cheeky, semi-vulgar “FU” while Fenty Puma products use an abbreviated version spelled “F.U.”—such as on a pair of fur slippers with one letter on each toe.

Freedom United has been selling products with its version of the trademark for 10 years prior to filing the lawsuit. The company alleges consumers could be confused by the similarities in their products.

The 30-page lawsuit, filed in New York federal court last week, claims Freedom United dedicated “substantial time, effort and resources including in excess of $2 million of capital” to build its brand in the United States, and the public has a certain expectation of products bearing an “FU” trademark.

As a result, according to Freedom United, Fenty Puma’s encroachment represents trademark infringement, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and violations of New York state business code.

The focus of much of the evidence provided in Freedom United’s opening salvo is the allegation that Fenty Corp. employees were well aware of the brand and the importance of the trademark before marketing similar products.

Owner and principal Greg Carney claims his company provided Freedom United products to the pop star and fashion mogul, as well as to Rihanna’s inner circle, before a tour in 2009. Freedom United’s claim is paired with photo evidence appearing to show Rihanna wearing an “FU” branded sweater in 2014, a year before Fenty Puma was created.

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Puma is no stranger to lawsuits over products allegedly pilfered from competitors. Nike filed a patent infringement complaint against Puma North America in May claiming Puma had “forgone independent innovation” and was selling products designed with Nike technologies since 2015. Mentioned specifically was its Flyknit knit uppers technology, along with the air pockets from the popular Nike Air line, and production techniques for incorporating cleats into a shoe.

On Thursday, Puma filed a motion to dismiss the Freedom United suit claiming the patent it was allegedly infringing upon was directed toward an abstract idea and therefore invalid. Adidas tried the same tactic against Nike when it was sued under similar claims in German courts and was successful. However, a judge in the Puma-Freedom United case dismissed Puma’s motion.