Indie Artist Lili Chin Is Suing Kohl's for Allegedly Ripping Off Her 'Doggie Language' Designs

Image used with permission from Lili Chin.
Image used with permission from Lili Chin.

Joining the growing number of artists taking legal action against major fashion labels for stealing their designs, Doggie Drawings’ Lili Chin has filed a copyright lawsuit against the department store Kohl’s for allegedly reproducing illustrations off her 2011 “Doggie Language” poster.


Prints alarmingly similar to Chin’s work appear on a child’s t-shirt produced by Mudd and on pairs of Sonoma socks.

In a press release, Chin states:

Ms. Chin is one in a growing community of indie artists who have had their copyrighted images stolen for unauthorized commercial use by corporate retailers. Her lawsuit, filed by the law firm Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC, challenges the egregious theft of her copyrighted artwork by defendants Kohl’s and its supplier K. Bell.

Kohl’s is the second largest department store chain in the United States with annual sales in excess of $19 billion dollars. With this lawsuit Kohl’s joins the list of corporate clothing manufacturers and retailers accused of stealing from independent artists and designers.

Ms. Chin is well-known for her dog illustrations, posters, t-shirts, and enamel pins. She makes a living from her art, licensing her illustrations for use on clothing and other products. Her infographics on dog behavior, such as her 2011 poster Doggie Language, have become viral sensations on the internet.


Kohl’s has ignored repeated notifications regarding its flagrant infringement of Ms. Chin’s art, and is indeed still selling shirts and socks featuring her artwork at the time of this release. Ms. Chin has been forced to file this lawsuit to protect her rights as an artist. The ability of artists to license and control the commercial use of their artwork is critical to their livelihoods, and is a key right bestowed on artists under the United States Copyright Act.

This lawsuit has implications for creative rights and for corporate retailers.

(You can read the entire complaint here.)

According to Chin, previous attempts to reach out to Kohl’s and Mudd’s parent company Iconix have been met with dismissal and no attempt to remove the designs from their stores.


“The legal team at Iconix...does not believe there is any copyright infringement,” she writes on her Tumblr. “They are refusing to take any action or compensate me in any way without a lawsuit. If I want them to stop selling this t-shirt or to get any money back from their sales, I have to sue them.”

On August 8, she updated that “Kohl’s now claims the shirt design is not infringement (their ‘design team’ created it) and they are going to continue selling the shirt.”


Chin’s copyright infringement lawsuit was filed in New York on September 28. Jezebel has reached out to Kohl’s for comment and will update if and when we receive a response.

Correction: The original post says that Chin’s press release was written by her attorney. It was actually written by Chin herself.

Managing Editor, Jezebel



As a shelter worker I <3 her infographics. They’re accurate.

I totally would have bought that t-shirt if I saw it in a store, but ripping off indie artists is not cool.

Edit to add link to her awesome infographics: