PARIS — It looks like Chanel is not out of the defendant’s chair yet.

The fashion house has been accused by one of its suppliers of counterfeiting a crocheted design, and a French commercial court said Friday it would defer to a court-appointed expert to comb through complex evidence.

World Tricot, which is based in Lure, France, and has manufactured high-end knits for Chanel for seven years, is accusing the luxury giant of counterfeit and “abusive termination of [on-going] contractual relations.”

Chanel refutes all of World Tricot’s allegations.

In January, the court suggested the parties settle their dispute through mediation, which Chanel later refused, reverting back to the French judicial system. The commercial court, which was expected to render its decision Friday, said “the expert must uncover if the service rendered by World Tricot only constitutes those services of a technical execution, or on the contrary, if they constitute an individual creation.” It also noted the expert would clarify to the court the origins of the creation as well as the financial consequences for each party.

The process, which can take up to six months, must start at the latest by June 16, and Chanel was ordered to pay a fee of 3,000 euros, or $3,840, to the expert.

The attorney for World Tricot, Solange Doumic, said, “The decision proves that the court determined there were precise similarities between the sample created by World Tricot and the vest designed by Chanel … World Tricot regrets this appointment that will only further delay the moment when it can finally be compensated.”

A Chanel spokeswoman said the company maintained its position that the sample was created under the direction and instructions of Chanel’s design studio, but declined further comment.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.