VANCOUVER, CANADA – A federal lawsuit accusing Vancouver-based retailer Aritzia of copyright infringement has been dismissed by a judge in the United States. The lawsuit claimed that Aritzia copied an artist’s work with hot pink, squiggle-shaped sculptures that were displayed in stores in early 2023. However, Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the artist, Richard X. Zawitz, was seeking to protect the style of his art, known as Tangle sculptures, rather than a specific product protected under copyright law.
In his decision, Judge White stated that “style, no matter how creative, is an idea, and is not protectable by copyright.” Aritzia’s victory in the case comes after the retailer showcased the sculptures in major cities across North America to widespread attention on social media platform TikTok. Videos of the sculptures being put together garnered over eight million views.
Zawitz had claimed that the Aritzia sculptures were identical to his Tangle sculptures and miniature toy versions, both of which are made from interlocking, macaroni-shaped pieces. He asserted that Aritzia used the same hot pink, chrome finish that is sold on his online store. However, the judge disagreed, citing the customizable nature of Tangle sculptures as a reason for denying Zawitz’s claims.
Aritzia maintained that the sculptures in question were designed by their in-house team and argued that Zawitz was trying to protect an unprotectable idea. The retailer also contended that even if the sculptures were protected by copyright, they would have needed to be virtually identical to Zawitz’s work for the law to apply. Neither Aritzia nor Zawitz’s legal team provided additional comment on the case.
Zawitz has filed an appeal following the judge’s decision. The dismissal of the lawsuit is a significant legal win for Aritzia, allowing the retailer to continue showcasing the hot pink sculptures in its store displays.
In summary, Aritzia has emerged victorious in a lawsuit that accused the company of copyright infringement. The judge ruled that the artist, Richard X. Zawitz, sought to protect a general artistic style rather than a specific copyrighted work. Aritzia’s in-house designed sculptures, which garnered significant attention on TikTok, were found to be distinct from Zawitz’s Tangle sculptures. The retailer can now continue showcasing the sculptures in its stores.