Alice + Olivia is facing off against Betsey Johnson. The New York-based womenswear brand filed a lawsuit against Betsey Johnson and its parent company, Steve Madden, last week over a design that looks remarkably similar to the face of Alice + Olivia’s creative director and founder, Stacey Bendet.
The lawsuit claims multiple counts of infringement, including copyright, trademark and trade dress, as well as unfair competition and trademark dilution. The design in question, dubbed “Stace Face” by Alice + Olivia, depicts a stylized take on Bendet’s hallmark look, sporting red lips and large sunglasses with round gray lenses.
Alice + Olivia believes that Betsey Johnson has been selling a line of handbags that bear a design that is too similar to “Stace Face,” which is protected by federal copyright and trademark law. Alice + Olivia has featured the design in products, ad campaigns and social media imagery. The brand sent a cease and desist motion to Betsey Johnson earlier this year after first learning of its use of the design.
In the lawsuit, the brand claims that it has exclusive rights to the design, particularly because Bendet’s “well-known name and likeness are inexorably associated with [Alice + Olivia].” Trademark cases are quite common amongst fashion brands, however the question of the rights to a designer’s face is a unique case.