After getting in trouble with a NYC souvenir company over some kitschy tote bags, now Balenciaga has found itself on the receiving end of another lawsuit, for a fresh (sorry) case of appropriation. According to TMZ, Car-Freshner Corporation – which owns the rights to Little Trees Air Fresheners – has accused the brand of ripping off its signature design, which is an air freshener in the shape of a, well, little tree.
It’s pretty difficult to deny the copy: Balenciaga’s leather keyrings are pretty much identical to the Little Trees air fresheners (which are those ones you hang from your rear-view mirror), even down to the colours used.
Car-Freshner Corporation’s reason for the dispute is slightly more unusual, though: it claims that unsuspecting customers might get the two brands mixed up. As if you might mistake their products – which retail in the US for $3 – for a $275 key ring...
Anyway, that doesn’t change the fact that, according to the air freshener brand, Balenciaga never asked permission to begin selling the replicas at its NYC store last month. It’s actually quite possible that, if it had, the label would have been allowed to go ahead with the copycat design, as plenty of companies have licensed Little Trees’ little trees since the company got the trademark back in 1952, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Kia Motors, and Capital One.