In fact, two years ago, Koerner looked into protecting her designs, but lawyers told her that the shape of a state cannot be legally protected, she said.
While the lawsuit might be inconsequential to a company the size of Urban Outfitters, the bad publicity could be potentially harmful, said Michelen. He said, often times the company receiving the negative publicity will approach the claimant with a financial settlement in exchange for a confidentiality agreement that bars them from voicing their complaints publicly.
CNBC has reached out to Urban Outfitters for comment but calls and emails were not immediately returned. (**For Urban Outfitters' comment see below**)
It has not been a good year for the Philadelphia-based apparel maker. Urban’s stock price is down more than 15 percent year-to-date period as the company struggles to pass along rising costs for cotton and other materials to their consumers.
“Over the past six-months they have not delivered fashion well, they aren’t buying inventory very deep and the CEO is working pretty hard with the design team to change this,” said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi, who covers the company.
Urban risks losing street credibility among its very opinionated customer base, Sozzi said. However, it could be a positive for the company in an odd way. "Sentiment is so low that getting interesting stuff that more people want could be what they need right now," he said.
Koerner’s not the only one with claims of having her work stolen. Lillian Crowe, a 27-year-old jewelry designer claimed in a Brooklyn, NY, paper that she found one of her designs in the retailer's catalog. However, when reached for comment she backtracked and said she completely regretted the interview she did. “It was for a friend and not to serve my own interests in any way.”
Koerner said she’s not in this for the money or the fame. She just wants to be able to pay her bills and do what she loves, she added.
However, there’s a silver lining—the jewelry maker has seen increased traffic and new people have been exposed to her work.
“I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that has resulted from this incident,” she said.
**UPDATE: Urban Outfitters late Tuesday issued a statement "unequivocally" denying Koerner's allegation. The retailer said a quick search of "state necklace" on the craft retail site Etsy reveals several other sellers with similar products who offered their jewelry as much as a year earlier than Koerner.
"We are not implying that Koerner stole her necklace idea from one of these other designers, we are simply stating the obvious—that the idea is not unique to Koerner and she can in no way claim to be its orginator," the company's statement said.
Urban Outfitters said they have been supporting Etsy artists for yearsby buying wholesale from numerous indepdent designers.
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