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Legal Briefs

The legal battles of the Gucci family and its namesake company continue.

The legal battles of the Gucci family and its namesake company continue. On July 30 Gucci America filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against a former family member for allegedly infringing on its trademarks. The lawsuit said Jennifer Gucci, the ex-wife of the deceased Paolo Gucci, who was part of the famous leather goods family, licensed her name to home textiles, bedding, bedding and bath accessories, window treatments and skin care and cosmetics. In June Veratex, the bedding manufacturer, rolled out a line of Jennifer Gucci home goods. Jennifer was married to Paolo from 1978 to 1991. She could not be reached for comment. The lawsuit names Jennifer Gucci, Jenco Designs, Jennicor, Veratex, Collezione di Casa, E.L. Erman-Dead Sea Cosmetics Corp., Louisville Bedding Company and Edward Litwak, who does business as Ed Litwak & Assoc., as defendants. Veratex did not return calls for comment by press time. The other defendants could not be reached. According to court documents Gucci alleged that Jennifer Gucci “attempted to capitalize on the popularity of the Gucci trademarks by licensing, attempting to license and/or permitting various companies to the infringing marks.” The complaint goes on to say that Jennifer Gucci attempted to register trademarks containing her name several times over a period of years. Gucci has a long history of protecting its trademarked name. Paolo Gucci and Gucci were in court in the U.S. in the early Nineties over use of “Paolo Gucci” on designs. The Supreme Court ultimately decided in Gucci’s favor after Paolo’s death.

A Manhattan federal court granted Cartier, a division of Richemont North America Inc., and Cartier International a consent judgment in litigation against Sweepstakes Clearinghouse, a division of Allied Marketing. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement and filed the judgment on July 23. The original lawsuit was filed by Cartier over the alleged infringement of its Pasha de Cartier trade dress.

Franck Muller USA and Elini Designs Corp. and Elini BVBA reached a final consent judgment on July 20. According to court documents filed in Manhattan federal court, the parties reached an undisclosed settlement. Legal proceedings were initiated as a result of the alleged infringement of Franck Muller trademarks by Elini’s New Yorker, Jumbo and Dolce watch lines.

Icon Shoes filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Burberry Limited in federal court in the Central District of California on July 17. According to court documents Icon alleged that Burberry’s “the Icons Collection” of shoes, handbags, clothing and accessories infringes on its own trademark. Both parties declined to comment further. Icon asked the court for preliminary and permanent injunctions, damages and trial costs.

Chanel filed a trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit in federal court in Miami against Susan Richardson, also known as Susan Holmes, for allegedly selling counterfeit handbags and jewelry. Richardson does business as Inspirations, Inspirations Ltd., Inspirations USA, inspirationsusa.com and Porttrends.com. According to court documents filed July 17, Chanel asked the court for a preliminary and permanent injunction, the cost of the trial and damages. The defendant could not be reached for comment by press time.

In an unrelated case, Chanel filed a trademark counterfeiting and infringement lawsuit against James Grasso, also known as Michael Grasso, and SIP Trading Inc. in New Jersey federal court. The complaint, filed July 16, said the defendants do business as Go Elegant and goelegant.com. Chanel alleged that the defendants sold counterfeit handbags and wallets. The luxury company asked the court for a preliminary and permanent injunction, trial costs and damages. The defendants could not be reached for comment by press time.

In a separate lawsuit, Louis Vuitton Malletier and Marc Jacobs Trademarks also filed a complaint against Grasso and SIP Trading for alleged trademark violations. The complaint, also filed in New Jersey federal court on July 16, alleged that Grasso sold handbags, wallets and backpacks bearing fake Louis Vuitton trademarks and handbags with fake Marc Jacobs trademarks.

Oleg Cassini Inc. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Manhattan federal court on July 10 against a New York store. According to court documents, Oleg Cassini alleged that Weber’s 32nd St. Corp. sold unauthorized shirts bearing the Cassini trademark at prices well below market value. The complaint said Weber’s 32nd St. was not licensed or authorized to sell the merchandise, nor were any of Oleg Cassini’s licensees authorized to sell to the store. The company is seeking a permanent injunction, damages and attorneys fees. Weber’s 32nd St. Corp. could not be reached for comment.

Louis Vuitton Malletier filed a lawsuit against Consumer Research Corp., SubscriberBASE, SubscriberBASE Holdings Inc. and Jeffrey French for alleged unauthorized use of Louis Vuitton trademarks and copyrights to “lure unwitting consumers” to their Web sites. According to court documents, Louis Vuitton alleged the defendants were offering a “free” handbag or wallet to consumers in return for personal information and fees. The complaint includes counts of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising and false designation of origin, copyright infringement and unfair and deceptive business practices. The case was filed on July 10 in federal court in Massachusetts. Consumer Research Corp. could not be reached for comment.

Molino’s Diamonds Inc., which does business as Molino Jewelers, filed a lawsuit against HSN Interactive and Clyde Duneier Inc. for allegedly infringing on a patent. The patent in question is for “convertible pendant jewelry.” According to court documents filed in Manhattan federal court on July 2, Molino asked the court for a preliminary and permanent injunction, trials costs and damages. HSN Interactive declined to comment citing company policy.

In an unrelated case, Molino also won a final judgment on consent against J.C. Store Jewelry Central on June 25 in Manhattan federal court. Molino filed a lawsuit against J.C. Store Jewelry Central for alleged patent infringement.