Sealaska Heritage and Neiman Marcus will settle lawsuit over sale of Ravenstail coat

Neiman Marcus sold the product on the left under the name “Ravenstail Knitted Coat.” Sealaska Heritage Institute says that infringed on the copyrighted pattern in “Discovering the Angles of an Electrified Heart,” center, originally by the late weaver Clarissa Rizal, background. (Top photos courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute, background photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

The lawsuit over Neiman Marcus selling a coat that bears a striking resemblance to a copyrighted, Alaska Native Ravenstail pattern is close to a settlement. 

Sealaska Heritage Institute and the heirs of the late weaver Clarissa Rizal sued the luxury retailer in April. In addition to violating the copyright, they said Neiman Marcus violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by misrepresenting the coat as an Alaska Native craft. 

In a joint filing in federal court, both sides say they’ve “agreed to the key terms” of a settlement and are just working on details. They think they’ll have it worked out by Jan. 29.

Rosita Worl in 2019. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

SHI President Rosita Worl responded to a request for comment by email. She didn’t share any particulars about the settlement.

“We are grateful for the amount of public attention this lawsuit and issue have received,” she said. “One of our goals was to put a national spotlight on this issue, and the widespread interest in this story indicates to us that the public is as concerned as we are about protecting our cultural heritage.” 

Attorneys representing Neiman Marcus and a luxury brand based in Germany called that’s also a defendant could not immediately be reached for comment.

For unrelated reasons, Neiman Marcus declared bankruptcy in May, then worked its way out in September

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Neiman Marcus.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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