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Counterfeit Cupcake Caper?

Boing Boing reports today that independent designer Johnny Cupcakes claims to have been ripped off by Urban Outfitters.  Apparently Johnny discussed the possibility of doing business with the national chain last year and submitted samples, which were never returned.  Recently, a friend emailed him to say that Urban Outfitters was selling one of his designs under their own Urban Renewal label.

The jet dropping cupcakes on the left is Johnny's original design; the one on the right is manufactured by Urban Outfitters:

Johnny Cupcakes T-shirt

Urban Outfitters T-shirt



Worse still, according to Johnny this is not an isolated instance of Urban Outfitters appropriating the designs of startup artists.

So, can't Johnny sue?  Doesn't he have a copyright in his design? 

Well, yes -- and no.  Johnny has a copyright in the design on the front of his T-shirt (though not in the T-shirt itself), but he does not own the idea of a jet dropping cupcake bombs.  Copyright law protects only Johnny's particular expression of the concept, and the Urban Outfitters design may very well be different enough to avoid legal censure. 

Johnny Cupcakes has no intention of being sweet about this "awful, scummy situation," however.  Instead, he's using the internet to harness social norms against copying by asking those who read his site to repeat his story, shun "cheating" companies, monitor Urban Outfitters for possible copying, and especially buy T-shirts direct from the source. 

He may wield aluminum cupcake pans instead of brass knuckles, but with a name like Johnny Cupcakes, you know this young designer means business.


In an email, this is what Johnny Cupcakes told Fashiontribes.com about this unfortunate affair:

"Urban Outfitters ripped off one of my shirts and is now selling it in some of their stores. They have a shirt with a jet dropping cupcakes(with a different color scheme),. Last year Urban wanted to carry my shirts & they had a few Johnny Cupcakes shirt samples I had sent them....the Jet dropping cupcakes being one of them. They never sent my samples back after I told them I didn't want to business with them.

A friend of mine that works in an Urban Outfitters e-mailed me today, telling me that she thought they got Johnny Cupcakes shirts in....except they had an "Urban Renewal" tag on the inside of em - which is Urban Outfitters notorious clothing line that rips off small, independant artists & designers from all around the world.

I am talking to a few lawyers next week to see if there's anything I can do. They may of changed the design around enough so that they can't get in trouble. Major bummer.

If you google "Urban Outfitters" and "Infringement" - you will find a couple hundred court cases about Urban Outfitters fucking over young/small designers & clothing lines. Urban outfitters makes $856 Million dollars a year(no joke). They put small shops out of business. They're the Wallmart/Hot Topic of clothing stores.

[I sent them a] Red Jet t-shirt dropping cupcakes...as a sample, before I decided to keep my shirts out of Urban Outfitters. They KEPT my sample shirts, copied one of them so far, and is now mass producing them with their 'Urban Renewal' company name on the inside.


-Re-post this, spread the word, tell as many people as you can. This type of thing with Urban Outfitters ripping off smaller brands, has happened ALL the time! Well, thanks to TOM - we all now have MYSPACE and can communicate.

-Stop shopping at Urban Outfitters, there are pleanty of other independant shops & online stores.

-And you can purchase shirts from http://www.johnnycupcakes.com

Thank you so much for your time, start spreading the news!

Johnny Cupcakes"

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