NEW YORK — David Yurman Enterprises and David Yurman IP LLC on Thursday sued Sam’s East Inc. and Sam’s West Inc., which operate as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club, in a federal district court in Houston.
The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, false designation of origin, tortious interference with Yurman’s contractual relations and unfair competition in connection with the sale of David Yurman-branded jewelry.
In the complaint, Yurman charged the membership warehouse club with “wrongful, unauthorized promotion and sale” of the infringing items in several locations in Texas, other stores throughout the U.S. and through its Web site. The legal document said a concern was that the sale of the alleged infringing jewelry “suggests” that Sam’s Club is authorized by Yurman to sell the merchandise, when “Yurman has in fact never provided Sam’s Club with permission to do so.” It also noted a concern about the customer experience, saying the “exclusive network of authorized retailers” receive specialized training regarding the products and the manner in which they are displayed.
The court document also alleged that the defendant induced one or more of Yurman’s authorized retailers to sell the products to Sam’s Club in violation of their authorized retailer agreements. In the industry, the unauthorized practice is sometimes referred to as “transshipping.”
The company is seeking injunctive relief to bar Sam’s Club from selling the alleged infringing product as well as unspecified damages and related legal costs, such as attorney’s fees.
“Our company very carefully controls the retail distribution of our merchandise to ensure that David Yurman jewelry and timepieces are available at only the finest jewelry and department stores, consistent with the image and goodwill of the David Yurman brand that our founders, the Yurmans, have worked so hard over the years to build,” said Phillips Nazro, David Yurman’s vice president and general counsel.
A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart commented, “We have protocols in place to provide our members with authentic, high-quality products. We believe those protocols were followed in this instance. We will review the complaint and respond appropriately.”
Wal-Mart owns Sam’s West Inc. It’s that entity and its subsidiary Sam’s East that does business as Sam’s Club.