According to a company which creates t-shirts that reference the “urban girl experience” and pop culture reality TV personality NeNe Leakes stole their slogan and tee design, “Girl, Bye.” The actress is claiming she owned the phrase and has created her own line of shirts, which are remarkably similar to those made by Tees in The Trap.
The black-owned family business alleges NeNe saw one of their t-shirts in an Atlanta retail store and decided to copy the idea and claim ownership. The celebrity has even been photographed wearing the shirt designed by Tees in The Trap and has now trademarked the phrase and issued a cease and desist letter to the company demanding they stop using the phrase, “Girl, Bye.”
The Real Housewives Of Atlanta personality gained notoriety for using the phrase on the series but the phrase was already on a shirt produced by the company. In January 2015 NeNe filed for a trademark of the phrase; however this is nearly a year after Tees in The Trap started selling their version. The boutique wants to send a clear message to the celebrity, who believes she is dealing with an amateur, that they are not a bootleg company that can be bullied.
The company sent several versions of their shirts to their Atlanta-based retailer Swank Blue. Olori Swank began selling the tees at her shop at the end of October 2014. Mrs. Leakes saw and purchased the shirt from the pop up shop on November 1, 2014. The black and white tee, which was a size large, was branded with, “Girl, Bye” and stamped with the owner’s logo in the collar. The shirt also sells on the company’s website and is described as follows:
The term ‘Girl, Bye’ is used to dismiss an accusation or comment by another person and renders their opinion invalid.
Not long after the former Broadway star purchased the shirt a photo of herself wearing the tee was posted on her Instagram page. NeNe’s fans loved the tee and were responding with suggestions for her to start selling the shirt. The actress bought the bait and within two weeks had launched an online shop with a design which mirrored exactly the t-shirt she had purchased.
Tees in The Trap have been selling the shirt since the company launched in April 2014. They were puzzled by NeNe’s actions and angered. The company said she brags about not being shady in her business dealings but then deliberately steals their t-shirt design. Although they cannot stop her from selling a shirt with the phrase on it, they were successful at stopping her from legally selling the exact design.
Apparently this upset the celebrity who is used to getting her way. She has since changed the font completely on her version of the tee but additionally had her lawyers send Tees in The Trap a cease and desist letter stating the company had no right to force NeNe to remove her duplicate shirt. The attorneys claim the star has exclusive rights to use it on shirts because she made the phrase popular, but have not rendered a true legal defense against the business other than her fame.
What has caused the most anger with the company is they feel NeNe is bullying them because they are small. She claims to be rich but will stoop low enough to steal ideas from “little people” and act as if it is okay. The company has contacted several media outlets to prove that self-asserting celebrities like NeNe cannot go around stealing from small companies and go unnoticed.
Tees in The Trap fully intends to see the actress in court if she continues her bullying antics. According to the legal system, the company has the advantage per rules stated in the Common Law Trademark. The small business has no doubt they will be victorious and said their only message to Mrs. NeNe Leakes is, “Girl, Bye!”
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Main Photo Courtesy of Instagram & Tees in the Trap