The battle between indie brand The Great Eros and Danielle Bernstein’s label WeWoreWhat is getting increasingly messy.
The Brooklyn-based lingerie shop has filed a complaint in a central district of California court for copyright and trademark infringement against Bernstein, her brand and several retailers that have sold the designs.
The Great Eros, owned by CV Collection, alleges that the mega-influencer and founder of the WeWoreWhat label, along with Manhattan-based swimwear brand Onia, Saks Fifth Avenue and e-commerce sites Shopbop and Carbon38, have violated copyright and trademark infringement for some of the designs by founder and designer Christina Viviana.
“Since its inception, CV has wrapped its products in tissue paper bearing a signature design… [which] consists of a pattern of simple, yet sensual illustrations of female figures in various states of repose,” according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Bernstein’s company WeWoreWhat, along with Onia, have produced swimsuits, accessories and lifestyle products that allegedly bear a resemblance to The Great Eros designs. (The products were later sold at Saks, along with Shopbop and Carbon38’s web sites, all of which have been included in the lawsuit.)
The Great Eros’ complaint went on to claim that “Ms. Bernstein (and her label) has a history of copying others’ designs and passing them off as her own. In 2018, prior to the launch of the WWW label, Ms. Bernstein was accused of copying the designs of a specialty jewelry line after she visited their studio. While Ms. Bernstein apologized for that misappropriation in a tearful post to her Instagram account, her infringing design practices have continued. Indeed, just this past July, [Bernstein and WeWoreWhat] were called out for selling face masks that were nearly identical to a patent pending design that Ms. Bernstein had used her status as an ‘influencer’ to obtain for free from an independent designer. Ms. Bernstein, now an owner of the WWW label, denied copying the face mask design, but nevertheless appears to have removed them from the marketplace.”
Onia, Shopbop and Carbon38 could not be reached for comment. Saks declined to comment. However, Bernstein released an official statement on her Instagram, following copyright infringement accusations, including The Great Eros claims. Bernstein said her designs were hand-drawn by her team as early as 2018, but were not released to the public until January 2020.
“The collection was already two seasons old and had been out in the market for months by the time their claim was made,” Bernstein wrote in a message to her followers on Instagram. “Over the last few years female line designers have been a market trend. A quick Google search reveals wallpaper, shirts, bathing suits, yoga mats and even tattoos, and it is clear everyone has had Matisse on their minds, including ShopWeWoreWhat.”
According to The Great Eros’ complaint, its designs were created in 2017. The company received a certificate of registration from the U.S. Copyright Office for the design on Oct. 13, 2020.
In October, Bernstein told WWD that her firm had offered The Great Eros a settlement, which they did not accept. She also filed a declaratory judgment for non-infringement against The Great Eros that same month, asking the courts to make a decision on the infringement claims.
“We don’t want to harm The Great Eros,” she told WWD.
“Throughout my career, I have always made it a point to support and uplift other designers and small businesses,” Bernstein said in her statement. “It makes it all the more hurtful to hear more claims of copying from independent designers whose work I have never seen before now. The inaccurate stories that have been circulating online and across social media have resulted in me receiving hateful and disturbing messages, death threats and ultimately someone showing up to my home.”
The Great Eros have asked the courts for a trial by jury, compensation for damages and fees from Bernstein’s camp and to force Bernstein and her company to immediately stop selling products bearing the allegedly infringed designs.
Sign up for WWD’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.