Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, alleges rip off of his designs


The world of fashion copyright and trademark law continues to be a murky
one. It’s very easy to trademark things like logos, but copyright is a much
more complicated area as you can’t copyright most designs. Just imagine if
people started trying to copyright black dresses. The lawsuits would be
endless.

Fashion designer Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, and Chris Lavish, global
digital director of Fifty Karats, were shocked and dismayed when they found
that the “Make Money Not Friends” slogan that gained popularity after being
worn by faces like J’aime tout chez toi and Lavish himself at international
fashion weeks, became the name for another fashion brand entirely based in
Milan, Italy. Ihem alleges that the Make Money Not Friends Slogan was first
popularized by him back in 2015 when he released his first highly
sought-after piece with the slogan, and he has been knocked off by the
Milan-based Make Money Not Friends brand.

Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, alleges rip off of his designs

Fifty Karats alleges slogan rip off by European brand Make Money Not
Friends

A quick Instagram search shows that the Make Money Not Friends brand’s
first Instagram posts dates back to 2017, 2 years well after Ihem released
his first piece branded with the slogan. Ihem first put the quote on a
black nylon bomber jacket, followed by a hoodie and T-shirt.

Ihem’s issues with Make Money Not Friends, whose products can currently be
found on Yoox.com and Luisa Via Roma, date back to 2016. “I first noticed
people copying my design as early as February 2016, then being sold on
Amazon to a company starting an entire brand using my whole concept by
2017” Ihem said to FashionUnited. “I made it a habit to always screenshot
counterfeit brands when I see them because it has been such a constant
issue since I first released the jacket. My customers always keep me aware
of the counterfeits they find and send me evidence.”

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Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, alleges rip off of his designs

In a statement, Ihem also said that, “This is the issue with fashion
vulture companies worldwide working to exile self-made brands by portraying
themselves as the originators. Despite adversities, my experiences have
taught me what it means to persevere and stay true to my brand. My ability
to overcome obstacles and continue to do what’s genuine will always remind
me to do what’s most naturally aligned with my brand.”

Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, alleges rip off of his designs

While Ihem hasn’t taken any legal action against the Milan-based Make Money
Not Friends since he’s found out about them allegedly ripping off his
designs, in July 2017, Ihem did attempt to secure the trademark for the
slogan “Make Money Not Friends”. However, he was told it was “too broad a
phrase” by the trademarking office and was ultimately denied.

Udo Ihem, CEO of Fifty Karats, alleges rip off of his designs

Copyright laws usually don’t cover practical items like clothing, leading
to an endless array of designers knocking off other designers’ styles. This
is such a common practice that the Instagram account @diet_prada has
dedicated an enormous portion of their feed to calling out designers
ripping each other off. As for Ihem and Fifty Karats, he has realized when
it comes to people ripping off his designs, there’s still very little he
can do about it aside from calling out other designers.

FashionUnited has reached out to the Milan-based Make Money Not Friends for
comment.

photos: courtesy of Fifty Karats



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