LOS ANGELES — Seven Licensing Co., a new company formed by Tarrant Apparel Group chairman Gerard Guez, has acquired the U.S. rights to the French jeans label Seven7.

Guez acquired the label’s U.S. rights from French businessman Maurice Ohayon, who has owned the label, originally trademarked in Italy in 1978, for four years, Tarrant said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Additionally, Guez filed a counterclaim in federal court here on Tuesday against Seven For All Mankind, seeking more than $30 million in damages for trademark infringement.

Guez was traveling and could not be reached for comment. Guez’s in-house attorney, Chris Trunnell, declined to comment.

According to Guez’s statement, the Tarrant executive formed Seven Licensing Co. as a separate and distinct company from Tarrant to "increase the label’s visibility and brand recognition in the U.S. by leveraging key distributors and licensees."

Noting that the brand is available now in the U.S. through specialty stores, Guez said, "Our plan is to team up with strategic partners to help expand Seven7’s market penetration while still maintaining the label’s aura of exclusivity."

According to court papers obtained by WWD Thursday, Seven Licensing Co. filed a claim against L’Koral Inc., the Los Angeles-based owner of Seven For All Mankind jeans, alleging that L’Koral is deliberately infringing upon the Seven7 trademark. The suit requests that Seven For All Mankind be prevented from using the label on apparel in the U.S. and seeks to recover $10 million in damages from lost profits and sales exclusive of interests and costs, punitive damages of $20 million and attorney’s fees and costs related to the suit.

The countersuit is in response to a declaratory claim filed by L’Koral on Sept. 23, that asked the court to state that Seven For All Mankind does not infringe upon the Seven7 trademark. Peter Koral, co-owner of L’Koral, declined comment.

According to the counterclaim filed by Guez this week, he and Koral in August 2002 discussed "several proposals to resolve the dispute and reached an agreement in principle in that regard…. However, the counter defendants backed out of the agreement in principle and discontinued any further discussions."Guez’s trademark attorney Larry C. Russ declined to comment on the pending case.

Koral told WWD in August he is appealing a decision handed down by a French court on Feb. 18 concluding French retailer Paul and Joes infringed upon Seven7’s trademark because it carried Seven For All Mankind jeans. The original claim alleged that Seven For All Mankind jeans were actually counterfeit Seven7 goods.

In August, Koral said his brand will ship $70 million by the end of the year and that the company has no intention of changing its product, labeling or in-store presentations.

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