Copycat, Copycat: American Eagle Outfitters Wins Injunction Against Payless Shoes

Have you noticed that Payless Shoes is starting to sell American Eagle Outfitters merchandise? Well, they’re not. They bought a a footwear brand called American Eagle from another company and (allegedly) redesigned it to look like American Eagle Outfitters’ merchandise.

The Pittsburgh Business Times says:

American Eagle said that for more than 20 years, it and shoe wholesaler Jimlar co-existed without customer confusion, but that Payless has been falsely indicating to consumers it is selling American Eagle Outfitters merchandise.

A court has now issued a ruling that forces Payless to put up a clear “disclaimer” that informs customers that they are not buying American Eagle Outfitters products. This isn’t the first time Payless has run into trouble for doing this sort of thing, apparently they’ve also lost lawsuits brought by Adidas and K-Swiss.

American Eagle wins injunction against Payless over shoe portrayal [Bizjournals]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Toof_75_75 says:

    Yeah, Payless was trying pretty hard to mimic the real AE. I hope they have to post huge signs that say, “This product is not really made by American Eagle Outfitters”

  2. petrarch1611 says:

    didn’t payless just lose a copyright infringement case to adidas?

  3. I always wondered how Payless was getting away with this.

  4. Both companies sell crappy products.

  5. goodywitch says:

    Is American Eagle Outfitters a brand, or a store, like Urban Outfitters? Um, yea, I’m so not up on brands. Someone educate me :-)

  6. LadyNo says:

    Funny, just last week I just purchased my first Payless shoes in years and thought “Huh, that’s weird of American Eagle to dilute their brand this way.” But they are cute, comfy shoes.

  7. The_Gas_Man says:

    The sandals in the picture don’t really look like imitations to me, but there must be some other kinds out there that are worse for this lawsuit to go through. I’d have to say though, that seeing the brand name American Eagle printed on them would make me wonder.

    American Eagle is an outlet store found in malls that sells its own branding of clothing and shoes. Very similar to Old Navy, GAP, etc.

  8. sahhhm says:

    @Tian: Amen. AE is just trying to cling on to whatever they can while Payless is trying to win off of false hype.

  9. katylostherart says:


    american eagle outfitters is pretty preppy generic clothing. they’re not couture, they recycle fashions. same as the gap, old navy, eddie bauer. it’s nothing original.

    change the name, keep the styles since they’re all the same anyway.

  10. mgy says:

    Pre-ripped hats and tweed-patterns. I’ll pass :/

  11. Triborough says:

    Why isn’t American Airlines getting involved?
    Isn’t their commuter operation also called American Eagle?

  12. WakefulD says:

    @Triborough: God knows they need the money.

  13. rdldr1 says:

    Yeah, I was wondering if AEO and Payless’s AE were related. It was very confusing. Im glad that this will clear things up.

    You people gotta know that the whole fashion industry is based on ripping off competitor’s ideas — NOT ripping off brand names (like this AE case). There have been lawsuits that allege that brand A copied clothing styles of brand B, which have been thrown out of court. Yout can’t patent a fashion trend.

  14. suzy-q says:

    Wow. You can say that I was genuinely fooled – having never walked in to an AEO myself, I see the Payless stuff and figure it actually is their stuff. I had no idea it was a completely different thing.

  15. tweemo says:

    @rdldr1: Some of these cases have been very close or won (I don’t remember)–Gwen Stefani and Anna Sui against Forever 21. Still, it was the print and not the cut/pattern being copied, but the brand name wasn’t used at all.

  16. pirate_eggie says:

    Funny, because Payless once issued a cease-and-desist to a friend of mine who had registered for legitimate business reasons. True story.

  17. ironchef says:

    I predict they will give the name American Beagle Outfitters a try as their plan b.

  18. goodywitch says:

    @The_Gas_Man: Thanks!

    @Triborough: For a sec I was thinking the same thing.

  19. bohemian says:

    I saw a pair of sandals with that brand on them at Payless and was wondering why American Eagle Outfitters was licensing shoes at Payless when they had a store five doors down.

  20. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @katylostherart: Let’s not yell with all caps, please.

  21. ElizabethD says:

    They fooled me. I was all excited; called my teenaged daughter and said, “Payless has American Eagle shoes now!” That’s really obnoxious of Payless. Go, AE.

    @ironchef: LOL re: American Beagle Outfitters. Preppie clothes for your hound dawg.

  22. morganlh85 says:

    Is the warning going to be something along the lines of Burlington Coat Factory’s “Not affiliated with Burlington Industries” lines?

  23. morganlh85 says:

    @ElizabethD: You should have let her keep thinking that — would have saved you a shitload of cash.

    American Eagle Outfitters is such a ridiculous tooley place to shop. I hope my kids don’t want to be lemmings when they are teenagers.

  24. Payless is evil. Small “e” evil, of course, can’t compete with big “E” Wal-Mart.

    Hate ’em. Only buy shoes at Nordstrom.

  25. Amry says:

    The American Eagle brand has been around for years – I remember first seeing it at department stores when I was in high school and being confused, which was also right around the time that the AE brand started using the “outfitters” part of their name more often. I always assumed that the timing was relevant, and that possibly the American Eagle brand pre-dated the AEO stores.

  26. thelushie says:

    @morganlh85: Actually the box already has this on it. It says it is not affiliated with American Eagle, the clothing store.

  27. rdldr1 says:

    @Triborough: If American Eagle Outfitters ever gets into the airlines business, then I would expect a lawsuit. A clothing company and an airline company could hardly infringe upon each other.

  28. niccernicus says:

    @cedarpointfan: I figured it was AEO stuff, since they acquired Airwalk too.

    Remember when Airwalk was cool? Well, you would if you didn’t blink.

  29. Joe says:

    I’ve been bamboozled! I was totally mislead, thinking that Payless was carrying AEO shoes. I noticed that the logo was different, but I just thought they used a different logo for the Payless merchandise. Ashley furniture sells at Big Lots under the “Ashley Signature” name, so I thought surely it was possible.

    The most striking thing to me, though, was how similar a pair of Payless “AE” shoes look to a pair of Skechers I bought to replace them:


  30. Britt says:

    Huh. I thought they were related in some way. The AE shoes always irritated me because they made my feet seem smaller than they actually are. I’m a womens’ 4.5, and the AE shoes that fit me are a 3. Kids’ styles. Ouch.

    The only thing I actually buy from AEO are underpants.

  31. drjayphd says:

    @n1ckel5: I still have a grease-sodden pair of Airwalks somewhere around this house. Grease courtesy of Boston Market, and this was at the tail end of anyone caring about Airwalk, which was, what, 10 years ago?

  32. imwm says:

    They fooled me too.

    But AEO also copies stuff. Their new cologne smells exactly the same as Hollister SoCal. No surprise, because HCO is one of their biggest competitors. But it even has a similar description on their website. Very distinctive smell too.

  33. battra92 says:

    Had me fooled, but then I don’t care about shoes much and honestly had no idea what the American Eagle logo looked like.

    The question I have is, who made better shoes?

  34. foreverinbluejeans says:

    I’m rocking a pair of American Eagle black flats right now. I also have two pairs of their flip flops.

    Can you tell I’m on a budget?

    Hate AEO; the clearance sucks and everything is way overpriced.

  35. ThinkPink says:

    I shop at a huge variety of stores, but when it comes to shoes (not tennis shoes, though) I usually buy from Target or Payless because they are cute shoes and just as good. I have some AE shoes that I got from Payless, and I knew exactly what they were. I thought it was awkward why they would put American Eagle on the shoes but it didn’t fool me for a minute. I just thought it was a retailed brand that Payless bought from. I don’t think they should have to put up the signs. AE and AEO are even different acronyms. Come on. And the logos are way different. Just saying, I wasn’t fooled, a savvy shopper would know in the first place.

  36. I really like AEO’s styles, but I’ve been put off of them by a sweater I bought there in January. After a single washing (hand washed with Woolite in the sink, mind you), I found a 4″ tear at a seam. WTF? Clothes that fall apart after one washing? AEO needs to leave that to Walmart. I do have a wonderful t-shirt from there that’s soft and comfortable.

    On a similar note, though I was raised wearing PLSS shoes, I won’t go there now. They might be appropriate for kids though, since their feet are growing so fast they stand a chance of growing out of ’em before the plastic gives way.

    I usually only buy shoes at JCPenney, but that’s probably because I used to sell shoes there when I was 18.

  37. fall_farewell says:

    I fell for it too. I was wondering how Payless was getting AEO stuff even though it was obviously crappier.

    I have never had a problem with AEO clothes I have bought. Polos that I paid a lot for ($29.50/$39.50) ended up being better than many other polos I’ve had, and they have lasted forever too.

  38. welsey says:

    American Eagle caters to a very specific and very suburban crowd who would like to believe it is still 1998. At least that’s my best guess of who could still possibly be interested in buying giant flare jeans and rugby-striped polos. I think Payless has made a particularly bad choice in brands to trick people into thinking they sell.

  39. shoesfact says:

    I am having an American Eagle Outfitter. It is fantastic. Payless is trying hard to mimic this brand. Have to be careful while buying.