By  on August 25, 2005

NEW YORK — The dog days of summer might be drawing to a close, but a heap of trademark and shareholder lawsuits will keep the courts busy this fall.

A shareholder lawsuit was filed on behalf of Avon Products Inc. against the company's officers and directors for actions that allegedly hurt the company's financial standing and its reputation. Robert L. Garber filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court against the beauty firm's management, alleging breach of fiduciary duties, abuse of control, gross mismanagement, waste of corporate assets and unjust enrichment. The complaint, filed Aug. 18, alleges that Avon's officers and directors conspired to conceal the company's misrepresentation of its true financial results, particularly in its overseas businesses.

This case follows two other similar shareholder lawsuits filed earlier this month that sought class-action status. All three lawsuits allege that Avon deceived investors by issuing positive statements about its performance earlier this year, despite awareness that there was resistance to its expansion efforts abroad and that revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe was lower than forecast. Avon did not return a call seeking comment.

Parties named in the most recent complaint include: Andrea Jung, chairman of the board and chief executive officer; Susan J. Kropf, president and chief operating officer, and Robert J. Corti, executive vice president and chief financial officer. Company directors named in the lawsuit were: Fred Hassan, Ann S. Moore, Edward T. Fogarty, Maria E. Lagomasino, W. Don Cornwell, Stanley C. Gault and Paula Stern.

One of the earlier shareholder lawsuits also named Jung, Kropf and Corti as parties, but did not include the board.

In other legal news, Ripley Entertainment Inc. filed a trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition lawsuit in July against Lands' End Inc. for the clothing retailer's alleged use of the company's "Believe it or not!" trademark on the cover of a catalogue.

The lawsuit asked for a permanent injunction against Lands' End's use of the phrase. Ripley Entertainment also asked for unspecified monetary damages, according to the court documents. Lands' End declined to comment, citing a longstanding company policy concerning litigation.

Meanwhile, Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. and its parent company, Liz Claiborne Inc., recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Ally Apparel Resources LLC, which does business as: Get Lucky, Key Apparel Resources Ltd., Marcel Fashion Group Inc. and Ezra Mizrachi. According to the court document, the defendants allegedly manufactured and sold jeanswear and sportswear under the Get Lucky trademark.The documents alleged, "Ally's Get Lucky jeanswear and sportswear products have caused consumer confusion as to its source and are likely to cause greater consumer confusion in the future."

Lucky Brand Dungarees and Liz Claiborne have asked for a preliminary and permanent injunction against the defendants, as well as for unspecified damages. The parties being sued in the case either declined to comment or could not be reached.

Last week, Cartier, a division of Richemont North America, and Cartier International B.V. filed lawsuits against two unrelated parties for adding diamonds to genuine watches.

One lawsuit, filed against Bertone Group and Jackie Bertone, alleged five counts including trademark infringement and false designation of origin. In response to the lawsuit, Jackie Bertone said he found the case "ridiculous." Bertone, who runs an automotive leasing company, said he is not a jeweler and has only offered one Cartier watch for sale online.

The other lawsuit was filed against SK Trading Company LLC and alleged six counts, including trademark infringement, false designation of origin and federal dilution.

The complaint alleged that the company added diamonds to stainless steel Cartier watches in imitation of more expensive watch brands. SK Trading Co. was unavailable to comment by press time.

There has been a spate of cases this summer about altering genuine Cartier products making their way through the courts. Cartier contends that adding diamonds to its watches has a detrimental effect on the image of its brand, and has vowed to continue its efforts to fight unauthorized alterations of its products, according to a statement from Frederic de Narp, president and ceo of Cartier North America.

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