By  on May 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES — Kitson has filed a federal lawsuit against its accessories licensee, Lucas Design International, for allegedly capitalizing on the retailer’s trademark by marketing Kitson-branded tote bags without permission.

The Los Angeles-based specialty store accused Lucas Design of breach of contract, trademark infringement and dilution and counterfeiting.

In a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Kitson is seeking an injunction to stop sales of Lucas Design-produced tote bags and compensation for damages.

“It is our view that this is a profound misunderstanding, and we are in the process of getting together to work the situation out,” said Daniel C. DeCarlo, an attorney for Lucas Design. “I believe that it… will be resolved.”

Kitson’s attorney, Mark Rappel, said Lucas Design contended that a third party was responsible for spreading the counterfeit tote bags. “If that is the case, we would want to work with Lucas Design to find the third party and put a halt to it,” he said.

The specialty retailer said Lucas Design, which has produced jewelry under license for Steve Madden, the Disney Co. and Warner Bros., manufactured and distributed counterfeit Kitson-branded tote bags starting last fall. The retailer said those tote bags competed with Kitson’s own tote bags, most notably a branded sequin style developed last year that the company said has generated more than $10 million in sales since March.

Kitson said in the complaint that Lucas Design sold thousands of counterfeit Kitson tote bags at a fraction of the cost paid by Kitson for its bags, and marked them up to more than double the sale price of Kitson’s product.

Kitson, which was established in 2000 by Fraser Ross, whose middle name is Kitson, has eight U.S. locations and four in Japan.

Last year, Jason Landver, president and creative director of Lucas Design International, told WWD that the firm had secured the master license for Kitson accessories through 2015, and that he expected those accessories to generate about $1 million in first-year sales.

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