NEW YORK — After the final two-and-a-half days of testimony, during which both CFDA managing director Steven Kolb and Coach CEO Lew Frankfurt took the stand, the verdict in the case of JA Apparel v. Abboud is that there’s no verdict.
Instead, Judge Katz once again tasked Marty Staff and Joseph Abboud with trying to compromise over the latter’s intention to use his name to promote his new men’s wear line, Jaz.
The men, former colleagues at JA Apparel whose relationship soured after disagreements regarding Abboud’s role at the company, shook hands at the end of formal testimony Wednesday, but the two hardly have a good track record of finding common ground.
A few weeks ago, after the first round of testimony, Judge Katz called a 17-day recess and challenged both sides to settle in the interim, but the talks failed to generate an agreement. There were also seven months in between the initial filing and the start of the trial‹plenty of time for both sides to work out their differences.
But if the case is destined for a ruling from Katz, the judge is holding out for one more round of talks. The sticking point: Did Abboud retain some rights to use his name after selling his trademarks to GFT SpA in 2000 (Marty Staff and J.W. Childs subsequently purchased the Joseph Abboud brand from GFT in 2004). Abboud holds that his publicity rights allow him to use his name “descriptively” to promote the line. As example, he’s cited ads that could include the language “by designer Joseph Abboud.” The plaintiffs argue Abboud forfeited the right to use his name in business after he sold the trademarks in $65.5 million.
With testimony complete, Marty and Joseph will have until March 27 to reach a compromise. If talks fail, Judge Katz will then be obligated to write a decision.