Zazzle Sued for Lots of of Hundreds of thousands of {Dollars} for Allegedly Stealing Designer’s Mental Property

Zazzle allegedly made a whole bunch of tens of millions in earnings and prevented paying a whole bunch of tens of millions in licensing charges by stealing the software program for one in every of its hottest fonts from famed designer

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — One of many world’s main graphic designers filed go well with at the moment towards web design and printing big, Zazzle, Inc., for allegedly dishonest her enterprise out of its mental property, which allowed Zazzle to earn a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in ill-gotten earnings.

Nicky Laatz, one of many main customized premium font designers on this planet, filed this motion at the moment in U.S. District Courtroom for the Northern District of California, alleging that Zazzle fraudulently and secretly obtained her Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts software program to be used on Zazzle’s web site.

Hyperlink to lawsuit: https://www.bzbm.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Laatz-v.-Zazzle-Criticism-8-24-22.pdf.

In line with the lawsuit, Zazzle instructed its senior community engineer to pose as a person designer and procure a single-user license for the Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts, however in actuality the fonts have been obtained for Zazzle’s unlawful use. Zazzle then loaded the software program onto its servers and made the fonts obtainable to tens of tens of millions of Zazzle designers and clients with out permission or compensation to the designer.

Nicky Laatz sometimes charged $17 per consumer for these premium fonts. As a result of her Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts shortly turned a number of the hottest fonts on Zazzle, the corporate was in a position to earn a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in earnings from its unlawful use of the fonts, and keep away from paying a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in licensing charges, with zero compensation to Ms. Laatz.

The go well with seeks disgorgement of all of Zazzle’s a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in earnings from the illegal use of Laatz’s massively standard Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts, in addition to a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in misplaced licensing income associated to Zazzle offering the fonts to its tens of tens of millions of unlicensed customers. Claims within the case embody fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment, promissory fraud, copyright and trademark infringement, and breach of contract.

“This can be a case of brazen fraud, dedicated by a well known, multi-billion-dollar model towards the very sort of artistic expertise Zazzle claims to assist,” stated Ms. Laatz’s lead trial counsel, Patrick M. Ryan of the Bartko regulation agency. “When Zazzle could not get a license to be used on its website, Zazzle had one in every of its senior engineers pose as a person designer so he might receive a single-user license, all of the whereas secretly planning to offer the font software program to Zazzle to be used on its website.

“After which Zazzle rotated and gave its tens of tens of millions of designers and customers entry to the fonts with zero compensation to the artist. That is outrageous and one of many clearest lower instances of fraud that I’ve ever seen in additional than twenty years of practising regulation,” stated Mr. Ryan.

Zazzle, based mostly in Menlo Park, is among the most profitable on-line marketplaces for designers trying to create and promote a variety of personalized gadgets together with invites, enterprise playing cards, vacation and greeting playing cards, clothes, artwork, and workplace provides, to the general public.

Zazzle is reportedly getting ready for an IPO that will worth it at as much as $2 billion. But, whereas the corporate raked in a whole bunch of tens of millions in earnings from the unauthorized use of Laatz’s mental property for greater than 5 years, she acquired not a single cent in royalties from Zazzle.

“Zazzle … is constructed on a lie that it helps, promotes, and pretty compensates artists and designers for his or her artistic work. In actuality, Zazzle’s excessive valuation and a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} in annual earnings are largely as a result of mental property of designers whom Zazzle has stolen from and did not correctly compensate, if in any respect,” in accordance the lawsuit filed at the moment.

Nicky Laatz, based mostly within the UK, fastidiously created the Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts to be a particularly balanced and pleasing handwriting-style of fonts, and they’re broadly thought-about by designers to be among the many greatest such fonts obtainable. Certainly, their repute and recognition was such that Zazzle actively marketed the fonts by identify, and Blooming Elegant shortly turned listed because the #2 script font by Zazzle beginning over three years in the past.

The grievance alleges that the Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts are the preferred fonts with Zazzle’s most profitable graphic designers who’ve their very own on-line storefronts on Zazzle’s web site and whose work is featured amongst Zazzle’s hottest designs and merchandise.

The Blooming Elegant Trio proved extraordinarily worthwhile for Zazzle. These fonts turned the main design ingredient in numerous extremely standard gadgets by a few of Zazzle’s most profitable designers, together with ten of Zazzle’s 24 hottest enterprise card designs and plenty of of its prime marriage ceremony invites. A number of of Zazzle’s highest-earning designers, who earn a whole bunch of 1000’s of {dollars} or extra a yr on Zazzle, relied on the fonts for a considerable portion of their product choices.

Two years in the past, in late August 2020, Laatz found the deception when a Zazzle consumer contacted her for help with utilizing the fonts on the Zazzle web site. Shocked, Laatz demanded that Zazzle stop providing her fonts to its designers and clients. She additionally demanded that Zazzle present her with a full checklist of merchandise designed on and/or offered by way of its web site that used her fonts, and an entire accounting of the corporate’s revenues and earnings from the illegitimate use of her mental property.

But the corporate not solely refused her calls for, it continued to overtly supply the Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts below their very own identify, for which Ms. Laatz has a registered trademark, till earlier this month., when Zazzle inexplicably changed the Blooming Elegant Trio of fonts with low cost imitations, one in every of which was copied from Blooming Elegant itself – extending the hurt to Zazzle’s personal designers and customers who’re additionally victims of the fraud.

“Sadly, this seems to be a sample of conduct for Zazzle, which has achieved the identical factor to different customized font designers,” added Ryan. “We’re asking the court docket not solely to compensate Nicky for the designers and tens of millions of {dollars} they diverted from her enterprise, however to disgorge Zazzle’s large earnings that it earned off Nicky Laatz’s sensible designs.”

In regards to the Bartko regulation agency

Bartko, established greater than 40 years in the past, is a boutique regulation agency specializing in nationwide and worldwide advanced litigation and investigations, in addition to actual property and franchising transactions.

It’s a 40-plus-lawyer agency devoted to strategic cutting-edge illustration of purchasers in California, nationally, and internationally. Bartko’s follow areas embody representing each plaintiffs and defendants in advanced enterprise litigation, antitrust and competitors claims, mental property litigation, commerce secret litigation, anticounterfeiting, advanced employment litigation, employment/labor strategic recommendation and collective bargaining, in addition to actual property litigation, amongst others.

Bartko’s lead trial counsel on this case is Patrick M. Ryan, who is among the most profitable trial legal professionals in america. Current victories embody: (1) appearing as co-lead counsel in defending Sutter Well being from antitrust allegations by class motion plaintiffs within the Northern District of California the place, after a 5-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sutter Well being and towards the plaintiffs who sought $411 million in damages, which might have been topic to trebling; (2) lead counsel for the plaintiff in a commerce secret case in Santa Clara County, California, the place he obtained an almost $900 Million jury verdict on behalf of a serious worldwide expertise firm.

In 2020, Patrick was named a High Commerce Secret Lawyer for 2020 by the California Day by day Journal. On account of one in every of his jury verdicts, Bartko was ranked as Quantity 3 within the High 100 Verdicts—printed by The Nationwide Legislation Journal (June 2019)—and having the very best ranked mental property victory in america for that yr. And the California Day by day Journal’s High Verdicts publication named Patrick’s case the very best Mental Property and Commerce Secrets and techniques victory in California and the Quantity 2 highest judgment general for 2019.

As a part of his follow, Patrick helps companies higher defend their mental property and coordinates investigations into potential IP theft for firms accused of stealing commerce secrets and techniques and for firms which may have been the victims of such theft. On this case, Patrick seeks to vindicate the rights of an vital artist whose IP was stolen and exploited by Zazzle.

Co-counsel Stephen Steinberg is a trial lawyer at Bartko specializing in representing expertise firms in disputes involving mental property and different advanced enterprise points, together with claims for theft of commerce secrets and techniques, trademark and copyright infringement, and disputes involving startups and founders. He often represents each plaintiffs and defendants in such instances, and counsels firms on the best way to defend their mental property from rivals and the best way to keep away from claims by rivals towards them. He second-chaired the trial within the aforementioned commerce secret case that led to an almost $900 Million jury verdict that was ranked as one of many largest in 2019.

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Contact: Sam Singer
Singer Associates Public Relations
singer@singersf.com
Cell: 415.336.4949

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SOURCE Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller