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Fendi Wins Filene’s Injunction

Judge bars Filene's from selling Fendi goods without permission.

Fendi won a partial victory Thursday in its legal fight against off-pricers accused of selling counterfeits when a judge barred Filene’s Basement Inc. from selling the brand’s wares without consent.

The ruling stemmed from a trademark lawsuit the Italian luxe firm brought against the Burlington, Mass.-based discounter and its then owner, Retail Ventures Inc., in 2006. In the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Fendi alleged Filene’s had sold fake purses and leather goods even after receiving cease and desist notices.

Judge Richard Berman granted the fashion house’s request for a permanent injunction halting Filene’s from selling Fendi-branded items without consent as part of a summary judgment in the case. Berman wrote Fendi had established that Filene’s sold goods with counterfeit marks. The judge stopped short, however, of granting Fendi damages and wrote that a jury should take up the retailer’s willfulness at trial.

Berman also left the issue of Retail Ventures’ liability to a jury. The firm has argued it was merely a holding company and was not directly responsible for Filene’s retail operations while it owned the chain. Syms Corp. acquired Filene’s out of bankruptcy in June 2009.

Attorneys for Filene’s and Retail Ventures did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. Berman ordered all parties to appear in court on April 1 to discuss scheduling and possible settlements.

Berman’s ruling came less than a month after another U.S. District Court judge ordered fellow discounter Burlington Coat Factory to pay $4.7 million to Fendi for violating a similar injunction.

In both cases, Fendi alleged the retailers had purchased counterfeits from New York-based distributor Ashley Reed Trading Inc. In a decision in a separate but related suit on Feb. 16, Berman granted the luxury firm’s request for an injunction that bars Ashley Reed from selling any items bearing the word “Fendi” without consent. The distributor has filed a request that the court reconsider portions of that ruling.