Uniqlo sues rival Shein for allegedly copying popular bag

Uniqlo is suing fast-fashion rival Shein, alleging the Chinese retailing giant copied its popular Round Mini Shoulder bag. 

Uniqlo's Japanese parent, Fast Retailing, demanded that Shein halt sales of "imitation products" and pay damages, according to a statement announcing its lawsuit, filed on December 28, 2023, in Tokyo District Court.

"The company filed this complaint because it has determined that the form of the imitation products sold by Shein closely resembles that of its own product," Fast Retailing said in the statement. "The sale of the imitation products by Shein significantly undermines the high level of customer confidence in the quality of the Uniqlo brand and its products." 

 A commercial hit around the globe, the bag sold for the equivalent of $10 in Japan. The Uniqlo brand offers casual wear in 2,491 stores in 26 markets around the world.

Founded in China but now based in Singapore, Shein is known for its accelerated manufacturing practices and for using social media influencers to advance its brand.

"Shein respects the intellectual property rights of others and takes all claims of infringement seriously.  We are currently investigating this matter," the company told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement.

Fast Retailing is not the first to take a legal swing at Shein, which also has a track record of suing rivals. E-commerce retailer Temu last month filed suit against Shein accusing it of using "mafia-style intimidation of suppliers." The complaint filed in federal court in Washington is among multiple lawsuits rivals have filed in the U.S. and overseas.

Three designers this past summer also filed suit in California federal court alleging that their products had been copied and sold by Shein, the world's largest fashion retailer, with annual sales of nearly $30 billion.

Shein repeatedly stole designs, violated the RICO Act, lawsuit claims 04:30

Shein also stands accused of ethical violations including alleged forced labor practices and inhumane conditions for workers who make its ultra-inexpensive clothing, some of it selling for $3 an item. In May 2023, a bipartisan group of two dozen lawmakers asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to put the brakes on an initial public offering by Shein until it verified that it does not use forced labor from China's predominantly Muslim Uyghur population.

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