Cartier Sues E-tailer HauteLook

Upscale watchmaker Cartier alleges the web site sold damaged and used watches without authorization.

Cartier filed suit Tuesday against HauteLook.com, a private sales Web site, alleging it caused “irreparable harm” to the luxury watchmaker’s brand and consumers by selling damaged and used goods without permission.

This story first appeared in the August 5, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The upscale watchmaker, which is owned by Swiss luxury group Compagnie Financière Richemont, claimed the Los Angeles-based e-tailer sold Cartier watches, despite asserting on its Web site that it “never” sells “secondhand merchandise, ever,” according to court papers filed in the Southern District of New York.

“Cartier has filed this lawsuit against HauteLook to protect its clients from misleading online sales practices as well as to protect the trusted Cartier name and what it stands for,” Cartier North America said late Wednesday.

“We just received this claim and are in the process of reviewing it,” said a spokesman from the online discount luxury site. “HauteLook respects intellectual property right holders and is taking this matter very seriously.”

According to the complaint, Cartier obtained five watches that were sold on the “flash sales” Web site, which were allegedly “secondhand,” and were, in some cases, physically damaged. In one instance, a watch was shipped in a “damaged” Baume & Mercier box, accompanied with Baume & Mercier informational inserts, Cartier said.

The watchmaker also alleged HauteLook sold “defaced and damaged certificates of authenticity,” and sometimes included a Cartier warranty booklet even though the warranty “did not apply.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop the alleged improper sales, compensatory and triple damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs.