The ultra-fast fashion industry is currently watching as litigation between SHEIN and Temu plays out in court. Both companies are Chinese-based ultra-fast fashion brands with SHEIN being one of the fastest growing fast fashion brands in history. In May of 2021, the SHEIN mobile app became the most downloaded shopping app in the U.S. Just one year later in May of 2022, it became the most downloaded mobile app in the U.S. in any category, outdoing both TikTok and Instagram.
Temu, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the U.S. ultra-fast fashion scene, launching in September of 2022. SHEIN, via the owner of its trademarks in the U.S., Roadget Business Pte. Ltd., filed a complaint against PDD Holdings Inc. and WhaleCo, Inc., owners of Temu, for trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, many among other causes of action.
Interestingly, of the main claims in the complaint, SHEIN claims Temu created “imposter” Twitter accounts that contained SHEIN trademarks in the handles (@SHEIN_DC, @SHEIN_USA_, and @SHEIN_NYC), provided links to authentic SHEIN web domains, and used “the same profile icons and profile photos in [its] imposter Twitter accounts as the genuine SHEIN Twitter account.” SHEIN claims these accounts and posts directed consumers to download an app, which brought the user to Temu's website and app - not SHEIN's. SHEIN claims Temu traded off the recognition and goodwill of the SHEIN marks to divert users to Temu's site and app.
Imposter accounts are a common issue online and brands need to be vigilant in monitoring and taking action against them because the accounts could divert customers from legitimate goods and services to competitors and/or could be used to obtain customer information for fraudulent purposes - all while using the company's important intellectual property assets and associated goodwill.
A battle between two Chinese ultra-fast fashion companies is heating up in court in the U.S. According to the amended complaint that Roadget Business Pte. Ltd., the owner of SHEIN’s trademarks in the U.S., filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois early this month, marketplace platform Temu – via its owner PDD Holdings Inc. and WhaleCo, Inc. and – has “willfully and flagrantly infringed SHEIN’s exclusive and valuable trademark and copyright rights,” and engaged in a scheme to boost its own growth in the American market by “impersonating [the] SHEIN brand on social media, trading off of the well-known SHEIN trademarks, and using copyrighted images owned by Roadget as part of [its own] product listings.”