$520,000 Jury Verdict Against Redbubble for Willful Contributory Infringement
June 29, 2021
$520,000. That’s the damage award assessed by a California jury against print-on-demand marketplace Redbubble for willful contributory trademark infringement.
According to the plaintiff, fashion brand Y.Y.G.M. SA d/b/a Brandy Melville, Redbubble allows its users to design and sell products, including products bearing Brandy Melville’s and others’ trademarks. When the products are purchased, Redbubble manufactures and ships them. It also collects payment for them and splits the payment with the user who designed them. In May 2018, Brandy Melville told Redbubble that it was offering a “massive” number of products bearing or mentioning its trademarks—in particular goods the Brandy Melville heart mark, its LA lightning mark, and other marks—and demanded that it remove the listings. When Redbubble failed to take the listings down, Brandy Melville sued for trademark infringement, as well as contributory trademark infringement.
Contributory trademark infringement occurs when the defendant “intentionally induces” the infringer to commit trademark infringement or continues to supply products to persons it knows are engaging in trademark infringement. Here, Brandy Melville alleged that its 2018 letter put Redbubble on notice that its trademarks were being counterfeited and that, when Redbubble maintained the listings and continued to manufacture, ship, and profit from sales of counterfeit goods, it committed contributory trademark counterfeiting. The jury agreed, awarding Brandy Melville $300,000 for infringement of the heart mark, $200,000 for infringement of the lightning mark, and $20,000 for infringement of the other marks.
This decision likely has implications for other cases against Redbubble, including several in the California district courts and one pending in the Sixth Circuit, where that court noted that Redbubble “brings trademark-offending products into being,” making it “more than just a passive facilitator” and more vulnerable to claims that it contributes to any infringement occurring on its platform.