Lilly Pulitzer Sues Old Navy Over Sale of Near-Identical Shorts

Pattern copyright infringement has Lilly and her fans up in arms.


Can you tell which is which? (See bottom of post for the answer.) | Images via Lilly Pulitzer and Old Navy.

Lilly Pulitzer, as a brand, always seems to come with a little bit lot of drama. (See: Utter anguish over the fact that the warehouse sale lasted all of seven seconds; the classist fury over the Lilly x Target collaboration.) This week brings new outrage (or delight, depending on your finances) to the patterned stage once more: Lilly Pulitzer is suing Old Navy for copyright infringement, as originally reported by Fortune.

Apparently, fabric patterns are protected as intellectual property, and Lilly Pulitzer designs are original works. According to Fashion Week, “Lilly Pulitzer’s design team creates the prints exclusively for the brand every season, all of which are done by hand on a sketch pad or canvas.” The brand claims that Old Navy blatantly copied two of its patterns, and we can see their point: 

It seems more than coincidence that Old Navy wound up with patterns so strikingly similar to original Lilly Pulitzer prints, which a textile designer created by hand for the brand. Lilly, we’re with you there. What we can’t get behind are the classist remarks coming from Lilly Pulitzer die-hards in response to the pattern imitation. You best believe Total Sorority Move had an opinion on the matter:

“Listen closely and you can hear everyone who’s ever spent eighty dollars for Lilly shorts clutching their pearls in horror, especially when it turns out that the Lilly knockoff shorts at Old Navy are literally a tenth of the price.”

Clearly, the concern does not lie in the fact that an artist’s protected design was stolen — which sucks — but rather that someone who can’t otherwise afford Lilly is now walking around wearing faux-Lilly for only $8. Just as we saw with the Target collaboration, Lilly Pulitzer has a class association that, when challenged, rears its not-so-cute head.

Sugartown, who owns Lilly Pulitzer, has asked Old Navy to stop selling both shorts in question in addition to the charges of willful and blatant infringement. Jury’s still out on whether Old Navy will have to pay up.

Answers to top photo: Lilly Pulitzer shorts are on far left and far right.