NEW YORK — Gabrielle Studio Inc., a corporate affiliate of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has filed suit against a New York technology products retailer alleging infringement of the DKNY trademark.
The civil suit, filed in late February in federal court for the southern district of New York, accuses TKNY Lab Inc., which operates a boutique store in the East Village as well as its own Web site, of infringing on the DKNY trademark. According to the complaint, the store’s name, which stands for ToKyo New York, is “confusingly similar to the DKNY mark” and is causing “immediate and irreparable harm.”
The suit also alleges that some of TKNY’s products, such as watches and makeup compacts, are similar to those bearing the DKNY mark.
Gabrielle, the assigned owner of the DKNY mark, is asking for an injunction against further use of the TKNY mark, the greater of either three times the amount of any TKNY profits or damages DKNY sustained plus interest, and repayment of any legal fees incurred.
TKNY calls itself as an “urban lifestyle technology” lab, selling an array of products from lightbulbs and ultrasonic spot stain removers to inflatable water pipes and electric bikes. The store also houses a lounge and art gallery.
Kiho Shin, president and owner of TKNY, said, “We have no intention of using this name for fashion. They think they have a trademark for high tech gadgets; they don’t. There’s no basis for this.”
In a statement, Donna Karan International said, “We have no objection to Mr. Shin’s business or retail operations, except for the fact that the name he has selected — TKNY — is nearly identical to the famous brand which we have worked so hard to build.”
The New York law firm Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman represents the plaintiff. In early December the firm sent Shin a letter demanding the company “immediately change [its] corporate and trading name.” Jeffrey Epstein, a lawyer with the firm, called Shin last Christmas eve and sent a follow-up letter Dec. 27 that stated its client would “not forget about this” and demanded a response by Jan. 3.
TKNY’s troubles may have been exacerbated by the media attention it has enjoyed since opening in May 2002. The store’s Web site includes editorial coverage of the firm in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Condé Nast Traveler, New York and Details.