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Coach Again Sues Target Over Designs

Accessories firm Coach alleges knockoffs of Patchwork and Ergo handbag designs.

For the second time in three years, Coach Inc. has accused Target Corp. of selling unauthorized reproductions of its handbags.

This story first appeared in the October 5, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In a complaint filed Oct. 1 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the New York-based accessories maker alleged Target has sold knockoffs of its Patchwork and Ergo designs. Coach said it spotted the items for sale at the retailer at some time over the summer.

“Target is not authorized by Coach to manufacture, distribute, advertise, offer for sale, and/or sell merchandise bearing Ergo Designs or the Signature Patchwork Designs or designs confusingly similar there to,” the brand’s attorneys wrote.

Minneapolis-based Target did not return a call Friday seeking comment on the allegations.

Coach is seeking an injunction against the items’ further sale, profits from infringing goods sold, attorneys’ fees and unspecified damages.

It’s not the first trademark dustup between the two companies. The accessories firm filed its latest suit a little more than three years after it served papers on Target in another handbag dispute.

In that case, Coach alleged Target had sold an infringing handbag at its Largo, Fla., store. At the time, the mass retailer questioned the suit’s merit and said it had a procedure in place to ensure the authenticity of the product on its shelves.

A federal judge dismissed the $1 million trademark case on Oct. 20, 2006, three weeks after it was filed.

It’s also not the first lawsuit Coach has brought against a national retailer that alleges infringement of the Ergo line.

In June, the company filed a patent infringement complaint against Brown Shoe Co. Inc. accusing the footwear seller of selling “virtually an exact copy” of the Ergo Pleat handbag in the Naturalizer chain of stores.

A Coach representative said in August the firms had entered into a confidential settlement agreement.