How a teeny bikini led to knock-offs, uproar and now a lawsuit
Art Law

How a teeny bikini led to knock-offs, uproar and now a lawsuit

Would you pay $285 for a skimpy blue bikini with multicolored elastic threaded through multicolored crochet trim? How about $176? Or better yet, $38? These are the options available to crochet-bikini lovers now that Target has jumped into one of the messiest swimsuit tales ever to unravel. The big-box retailer this spring began to offer its Xhiliration-brand version of a bathing suit first sold on a beach in 1998 by a Brazilian crochet artist. That bikini was later remade and marketed to great success by a New York entrepreneur as the perfect suit for high-end luxury buyers with tiny bodies and huge Instagram followings. By making the swimsuit available to the mass market — or a look-alike of a copy of the original — Target has reinvigorated one of the bikini industry’s wildest intellectual property disputes in memory: one that involves lawsuits and federal court, and evokes questions about art, commerce, the trickling down of trends and the internet’s role in it all. In an industry built on creative inspiration, can any one person own a design? Is infringement litigation a waste of time and money that would be better spent on new products and ideas? If one internet-savvy […]

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