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.

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