NEW YORK — Designer Joseph Abboud has sued GFT (U.S.A.) Corp., charging fraud and seeking to be freed from a non-compete clause in his employment agreement.

In the action against GFT, JA Apparel Corp., Holding Partecipazioni Industriali SpA., GFT International Network SpA and Roberto Jorio Fili, the designer is seeking unspecified general and punitive damages, and a release from the non-compete clause.

Bob Wichser, president of JA Apparel, was traveling in Asia and could not be reached for comment. Calls to Traci Young, vice president for marketing and creative services for GFT USA, were not returned by press time.

As reported, HdP acquired the Joseph Abboud trademarks in 2000 at which time they agreed that Abboud would provide creative services.

Thursday’s lawsuit, filed in a New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, charged that the defendants have "prevented Abboud from performing any significant work in the design, styling and creative development of Joseph Abboud products, while using the services agreement to prevent him from performing such services elsewhere."

Court papers also said defendants’ actions have deceived the public into believing that the products sold under the Joseph Abboud name and logo were designed by or under the direction of Joseph Abboud.

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