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A Major National Retailer Has Stolen Your Work, and You’ve Become a Victim of Copyright Infringement: What Do You Do Now?

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What you do when a major national department store engages in corporate theft and takes all of your art designs, decides to commercialize your work, without your knowledge, and then makes a ton of money selling its own products?

Just ask Los Angeles indie artist Lili Chin. Chin recently sued retail giant Kohl’s for taking its copyrighted images and stealing Kohl’s essentially completely lifted Chin’s designs in manufacturing its own products and clothing items. Close essentially stole her artwork, and began using it on their own clothing designs, selling clothes, socks, and numerous other types of products.

Lili is a visual artist based out of Los Angeles and illustrator who spent years crafting her illustrations, specifically including a Doggie Drawings poster. The Doggie Drawings had been used by Chin in making illustrations, posters, T-shirts, and enamel pins. She is an independent artist that survives on her art, licensing her illustrations for use on clothing and other products.

According to the press release issued by Chin, Kohl’s ignored the repeated notifications about its infringement of Ms. Chin’s art, and continued selling shirts and socks featuring her artwork. As a result, Chin made the decision to sue Kohl’s, and the case is now pending in federal court. Chin alleged that Kohl’s engaged in copyright infringement, because her works are copyrighted long before the Kohl’s were manufactured.

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Photo Credit:

Copyright infringement is no joke. Obviously, independent artists spend years honing their craft and authoring designs that they used to make a living. There is nothing worse than waking up one morning to find that a major department store or national retailer is simply lifted all your designs and is now making money from your work.

Copyright infringement can include more than out right theft. In some cases, the perpetrator changes one thing, or changes enough in its work to make it look sufficiently different, so as to avoid a technical infringement. But the concept is still the same: they have used their clout and weight as a major corporation to commercialize an idea that was originally yours.

What you do if this happens to you? It’s important to get an attorney right away. If you are the victim of copyright infringement, it is extremely important to consult with an attorney to put a strategy together for moving forward.

In some cases, if the work is not getting copyrighted, it may be appropriate to have the work copyrighted. In other circumstances, it may be important to have a cease and desist demand issued to the perpetrator, to start the period by which statutory damages can be sought, under federal copyright infringement laws. Sometimes, the perpetrator will refuse to stop what they’re doing, and a lawsuit may be necessary. Your attorney can help talk to the options with you and advise on the best course for going forward.

Getting Legal Help

AXIS Legal Counsel represents clients in numerous infringement, trademark, copyright  and other similar types of intellectual property matters. For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent you in connection with an intellectual property matter, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. AXIS Legal Counsel serves clients throughout Los Angeles and California.   Our Intellectual Property Rights Practice helps clients protect their ideas, inventions, and works of authorship, to copyright, trademark, patent, and secure other intellectual property rights in products, goods, services, inventions, and works of authorship.  AXIS assists clients in applying for intellectual property protection as well as litigating disputes, including copyright litigation, copyright lawsuits, non-solicit agreements, non-competes, trade secrets, cyberlaw, intellectual property, trademark applications, trademark infringement, trademark litigation, trade secrets, intellectual property law, intellectual property litigation, cyberlaw, internet law, social media law, technology law, privacy law, fashion law, entertainment law, and numerous other types of intellectual property matters.   Axis’ managing attorney Rabeh M. A. Soofi is ranked as one of the “Top Women Lawyers of Southern California” by SuperLawyers Rising Stars, and counsels clients in need of a Los Angeles Intellectual Property Attorney for trademarks, copyrights, and intellectual property matters. For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent you in connection with any intellectual property matter, contact us at (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. AXIS Legal Counsel serves clients throughout Los Angeles and California.


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