Remember Fred Segal's O.G. outpost on Melrose Avenue? When the iconic Los Angeles retailer relocated to Sunset Boulevard three years ago, one thing it didn't pack up was its original signage. Since then, Global Icons (the licensing agency that co-owns the Fred Segal brand) and CormackHill (the Canada-based real estate investor that owns the Melrose property) have been locked in legal battles over the rights to use the name.
Now, the matter has finally been settled in court. The verdict: The Fred Segal sign at the department boutique's old location — a.k.a. the Melrose Center — must come down, reports Women's Wear Daily. A decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (California's highest federal court) rules that as a third-party purchaser, CormackHill cannot inherit the license to use the brand name from the family of Bud Brown, who sold the Melrose property to the retail real estate investing company.
Per the decision, the License Agreement "expressly precludes third-party purchasers of the Center, like CormackHill, from succeeding to the License: if the Center is sold outside the Brown Family, 'such transferee shall not succeed to the rights of [the]Licensee hereunder.' The License is instead granted 'only to the extent Licensee [the Brown Family] owns and operates such Center.'"
For those that need a refresher, New York-based Sandow Media purchased the global branding rights to the Fred Segal name in 2012, but didn't buy the Melrose real estate; three years later, the company granted rights to Moroto Group to use the name in Japan. In 2019, Global Icons purchased a majority stake in the brand.
CormackHill bought the 8100 Melrose Ave. complex in 2016 from Bud Brown, the "longtime insurance broker" to Fred Segal (the man). The company maintained that because the Segal family allowed Brown to continue using their brand's sign on the property, that those rights would also transfer to any subsequent owners of the land.
CormackHill told UncoverLA last year that the Melrose space "will continue to play a leading role in Los Angeles' retail and fashion industry and we are excited to continue Ron Herman's and Mauro's' decades-long operations at the center and will have further announcements about more to come at a later date."
Fred Segal has now reopened its L.A. stores in West Hollywood and Malibu under COVID-19 safety guidelines. The luxury department boutique is also offering curbside pickup and concierge services.
We've reached out to CormackHill and Global Icons for comments; stay tuned for more.