JustFab, the shoes and apparel e-commerce site that has raised $109 million, is taking to the courts to make sure that no one steps on its feet as it expands beyond its home market of the U.S. The company has filed a lawsuit against Fab.com, the other popular fashion commerce site with “Fab” in its name (funding raised: $321 million), over trademark infringement over a “confusingly similar” name, along with related allegations, including unfair competition. Fab.com has already told us it intends to fight the lawsuit “aggressively”:
“Our attorneys are currently reviewing the complaint,” said a spokesperson. “While we are not in a position to comment with any specificity on the allegations we will aggressively defend our brand, products, and services offered to our customers worldwide.”
JustFab, meanwhile, countered with this: “We’re in the business of fashion, not in the business of litigation,” Matt Fojut, General Counsel for JustFab, said in a statement. “But we’ve worked very hard to establish our brand. We are not only prepared to protect our intellectual property, but we also believe we have a responsibility to our members and to members of the general public to stop any actual or likely confusion that is created when someone else uses a similar name.”
The case, first brought to our attention by DomainNameWire, was filed in the U.S. Central District of California, and requests that Fab.com be prevented from selling any items that compete directly with JustFab.com, and to pay for damages of any lost business resulting from confusion over the brands. We’re embedding the full complaint below.
This is not the first time that Fab.com has been in the courts over trademark infringement, although the last time it was on the plaintiff’s side (that suit, against Touch Of Modern, has now been settled).
Meanwhile, Just Fab has been dealing with other fashion sites that use the word “Fab” in their brand names in another way — it’s been buying them. In January 2013, it bought Fab Kids; and in May it bought European site Fab Shoes. That route would be more tricky with Fab.com, which is now apparently valued at $1 billion.
Just Fab (original name: Just Fabulous and founded in 2010) is taking issue with the fact that Fab.com not only shares a similar name but offers a service that is too similar to Just Fab’s. Just Fab notes in the suit that after Fab.com pivoted in 2011 to focus on e-commerce from starting out as a social networking site, it focused on discounts for site members, just like Just Fab.
And Fab.com, the lawsuit notes, “completely changed their business model from social networking to on-line retailing that, like Just Fab’s business, emphasized excellent design at bargain prices.”
It goes on to note that like Just Fab, Fab.com focuses on special deals for members; and that they carry many of the same brands. Together with the name, the similar product offerings cause “marketplace confusion.” To note, Fab is continuing to evolve, with flash sales now being de-emphasized at Fab.com in favor of a more social-commerce-style follower model. Meanwhile, Just Fab has stuck to a subscription-commerce model. “We’re staying entirely focused on subscription-based commerce,” co-CEO Adam Goldberg told me earlier this year.
There is another interesting parallel between the two companies. Both Fab and JustFab have projected that they will make $250 million in revenues this year. This shows that despite the ongoing consolidation among smaller players, the biggest are continuing to move ahead. With both Fab and JustFab going after the same class of online consumers — those willing and able to buy fashion online — it seems like it was just a matter of time before they locked horns.