NEW YORK — Aéropostale Inc. and Aéropostale West Inc. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against California Offprice Inc. and individuals associated with the company for the sale of alleged counterfeit shirts.

The federal lawsuit, filed May 19 in the Central District of California, accused California Offprice of selling counterfeit Aéropostale apparel to J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and other vendors. The sales “significantly harmed” Aéropostale. Penney’s is not named as a defendant, according to court documents.

Doron Kadosh, president and chief executive officer of California Offprice, who was named in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Aéropostale’s allegations include false designation of origin and trademark infringement, trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit marks, trademark dilution and violations of state law.

The documents charged that the defendants sold apparel that infringed on Aéropostale trademarks and service marks that included: Aero, Aero Athletics, Aero House, Aeropostale A and the Smiling Monkey Design.

Aéropostale charged that California Offprice’s actions were deliberate. “Defendants have been knowingly and willfully violating the Aéropostale marks and Aéropostale’s trademark rights,” the complaint said.

Aéropostale said it hired investigators to pose as customers at California Offprice. The company also purchased allegedly counterfeit Aéropostale shirts directly from a J.C. Penney Outlet Store in Gurnee, Ill.

Penney’s stopped selling the items when Aéropostale informed the retailer they were counterfeit, according to court documents.

The complaint asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions against California Offprice and anyone affiliated with the company. Aéropostale is also seeking the destruction of the alleged counterfeit merchandise. In addition, the apparel retailer asked for statutory and punitive damages plus the costs of the legal action.

This story first appeared in the May 31, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.