Fashion Giant Slapped With Numerous Lawsuits for Copyright, Stealing, Data Scraping, and More

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 22, 2024

Fashion giant Shein has been slapped with numerous lawsuits for copyright, stealing, data scraping, and more. The company’s most recent lawsuit alleges that they used AI to steal art and popular clothing trends, using this information to then make these trending items themselves.

According to this latest case, these actions mainly harmed small fashion designers attempting to make a name for themselves online.

Shein Is Accused of Copyright Infringement

A class action lawsuit filed against e-commerce fast fashion giant Shein has accused the company of copyright infringement. This suit also alleges that Sehin uses data scrapping, as well as electronic monitoring, to find popular clothing trends.

A black Shein logo on a white background.

Source: Commons

This complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Stealing Popular Clothing Trends

Upon finding these trends using these nefarious means, Shein then allegedly steals the trends to make their own products that are remarkably similar to the original piece.

Many clothing items on hangers against a white wall.

Source: Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦/Unsplash

Shein is then able to mass produce these purportedly stolen designs and sell them themselves, often at a discounted price.

Using AI

The plaintiff of this case is artist Alan Giana. Giana has accused Shein of using AI to follow what customers look at on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

A person holding a phone open to Instagram.

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This AI system tracks customer behavior, then anticipates the clothing items that may become more trendy and popular.

Shein’s Practices Hurt Small Designers

According to this suit, this practice of finding trending clothing items and then making the items themselves hurts small designers. Often, these artists or small business owners publish their designs online to get exposure.

A close-up of a measuring tape with pins and needles in the back for fashion designers.

Source: Darling Arias/Unsplash

Shein then takes their designs and makes the items themselves, mass-producing them in the process.

Shein Doesn’t Create Its Own Products

This lawsuit also alleges that Shein doesn’t create its own products from scratch. Instead, they allegedly steal the designs.

A close-up of many black clothing items on hangers on a rack.

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The complaint says, “Shein does not create many of its products; it certainly does not design thousands daily. Instead, it uses sophisticated electronic systems that algorithmically scour the internet for popular works created by artists like Mr. Giana.”


An Audacious Practice

Many legal analysts have noted how Shein’s practices are incredibly audacious. Brett Lewis, an internet law and intellectual property lawyer of Lewis & Lin LLC, further noted this behavior.

Sweaters folded and on a wooden surface.

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“It’s incredibly sophisticated and awfully brazen,” Lewis said. “And it’s somewhat shocking that they’ve been able to get away with it.”


Shein’s Response to These Allegations

While Shein hasn’t responded to this recent lawsuit yet, the company has released a statement in the past when accused of copyright infringement.

A close-up of clothing items on hangers on a rack.

Source: Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦/Unsplash

Shein previously stated, “SHEIN takes all claims of infringement seriously, and we take swift action when complaints are raised by valid IP rights holders. We will vigorously defend ourselves against this lawsuit and any claims that are without merit.”


Will This Lawsuit Take Down Shein?

This latest lawsuit accuses Shein of illegal behavior. But will the suit actually harm the fast fashion company? Analysts believe that Shein will simply pay away the issue and continue on doing business as normal.

A close-up of many American dollar bills.

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Lewis explained, “Shein’s business model is: If we get sued, we pay, and otherwise, we just keep doing this because it’s so profitable.”


Shein’s Other Lawsuits

This isn’t the first time Shein has had a suit filed against them. In July of 2023, three designers in China sued the company for copyright infringement, as well.

A close-up of a sewing machine working on a black piece of fabric.

Source: Alexander Andrews/Unsplash

This case is very similar to this latest suit, as these designers accused Shein of using “secretive algorithms” that identified trends and illegally copied artists’ work. Shein then used these stolen designs and sold them as their own.


Racketeering Charges

According to this 2023 lawsuit, Shein has such an enormous history with copyright infringement charges that they’re partaking in racketeering. In this way, they’re using practices related to organized crime.

Clothing items on hangers on a rack with a hat beside them.

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Shein’s rival Temu has also accused Shein of partaking in mafia-esque practices in their suit against the company in December of 2023. Temu accused Shein of stealing business secrets, detaining merchants on false charges, and “mafia-style intimidation of suppliers.”


Other Shein Allegations

Though these lawsuits have brought Shein’s behavior into the light, the company has long had a troubled history of illegal behavior. These allegations range from environmental unsustainability to forced labor.

A close-up of clothing items on a rack.

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However, even though these allegations have existed for years now, Shein is still a thriving business that raked in more than $30 billion last year in revenue.