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California Court Rules on Siwy Suit

Wildfox Couture barred from use of ‘Siwy’ name without disclaimer.

The first round in Michelle Siwy’s battle with the brand that bears her name has gone to Siwy Denim.

Judge Suzanne Bruguera of Los Angeles County’s Superior Court of California has issued a preliminary injunction barring Michelle Siwy and Wildfox Couture LLC from using the term “Siwy” in the marketing, advertising, sale or manufacture of any denim apparel without a “prominent disclaimer.”

The ruling requires Wildfox to remove or modify any reference to Siwy on Wildfox products and notify stores and other third-party sellers of the merchandise to take similar steps.

Siwy joined Wildfox earlier this year after exiting Siwy Denim in 2012. She cofounded the company in 2005. Her departure followed the acquisition of financial control of the company by Los Angeles-based New Crew Production Corp. in 2009.

Siwy and her husband, videographer Ed Burke, filed suit against her former firm last April, alleging that Kris Park, New Crew’s owner, had reneged on promises to grant her a 32 percent stake in Siwy following its acquisition. She is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

Siwy Denim filed a cross-complaint accusing Siwy and Wildfox of trademark infringement in July.
Kenneth Linzer of Hobart Linzer LLP, counsel for Siwy Denim, said that Siwy Denim denies that Michelle Siwy was ever an owner of the firm that bears her surname or that she was entitled to the equity stake she claims she was promised.

Although Siwy Denim hasn’t yet petitioned the court for specific damages, Linzer told WWD they would likely be in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re being aggressive in pursuing this.”

Calls to Russell Allyn of Buchalter Nemer, counsel for the denim designer, weren’t returned at press time.
The ruling was issued as the discovery phase of the trial proceeded. The parties are due back in court for a hearing on Friday with the trial scheduled for September 2014.

The preliminary injunction would be in force through the conclusion of the trial, at which point it would either be terminated or converted into a permanent injunction.