A $10 million lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on Sept. 2, 2019 involves famous pop-star Ariana Grande fighting the well-known fashion retailer, Forever 21. But why the lawsuit? And why at such a high price tag?
According to the lawsuit, which specifically revolves around one of Grande’s newer songs, 7 Rings, Forever 21: (1) violated Grande’s right of publicity, (2) engaged in false endorsement, and (3) infringed upon her trademark and copyright rights as an artist. The lawsuit also emphasizes issues involving Grande’s “likeness.”
In late 2018, Forever 21 and Ariana Grande considered an endorsement deal – but Grande turned the offer down, and she did not agree to work with Forever 21. According to the lawsuit, shortly after the endorsement deal fell through, Forever 21 – using its social media platforms – promoted its brand and several items of clothing using models and styles “strikingly similar” to Grande herself and the fashion design in her 7 Rings music video.
But to understand the lawsuit, we need to understand the similarities between Grande’s music video and Forever 21’s advertisement. Take a look at Forever 21’s Facebook post from February (which has since been removed from the site) below…
The advertisement features lyrics from Grande’s song, such as “Gee thanks, just bought it” and “[You] want it, [we] got it.” The lawsuit also alleges that the model used in the advertisements bears too much of a “striking resemblance” to Ariana Grande herself. Furthermore, the clothing promoted by the model is nearly identical to the attire worn by Grande and her team in the music video.
According to the lawsuit, these unauthorized images and videos constitute “misappropriating Ms. Grande’s name, image, likeness and music in order to create the false perception of her endorsement.”
Based on the “fair market value” of a celebrity of Ariana Grande’s prestige, Grande is seeking at least $10 million in damages for copyright infringement, common law trademark infringement, and the other alleged offenses.