NEW YORK — Totes-Isotoner Corp. filed a lawsuit Friday in the U.S. Court of International Trade that questions the constitutionality of different Customs duty rates for men’s and women’s merchandise. The lawsuit, filed by Neville Peterson LLP on behalf of Isotoner, focuses on the higher duty rates placed on men’s leather gloves compared with women’s gloves. According to legal documents, Isotoner asked the court to find that the duties imposed on men’s gloves discriminate against the company on the basis of gender and age, and violate the right of the category of men’s gloves to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause of the Constitution, as well as to declare the duty rate null and void. The complaint also requests a refund of all duties paid in the two years before the filing of the lawsuit.

PEI Licensing Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Perry Ellis International, filed a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit last month against J. Crew International Inc. for allegedly infringing on its penguin trademarks. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 21 in a Manhattan federal court, but was only recently made available. According to the complaint, J. Crew used the alleged infringing trademark on T-shirts, sleepwear, sweaters, ties and shoes. PEI Licensing charged that J. Crew “knowingly and willfully used, reproduced and/or copied the Penguin Trademarks.” Counts in the case include trademark dilution, unfair competition, false designation of origin, trademark infringement and deceptive acts and practices. PEI asked that J. Crew be restrained from infringing on its trademarks as well as for unspecified damages. J. Crew declined comment, citing company policy.

Franck Muller USA Inc. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Yafa Antique Jewelry Inc., Exclusive Time Inc., New York Buyer’s Jewelry Inc., Nelly’s Fine Jewelry and Watch Inc. and other unnamed defendants in Manhattan federal court on Dec. 22. Court documents filed by the plaintiff alleged that the defendants sold in the U.S., without authorization, Franck Muller-brand products they bought from overseas resellers. Franck Muller alleged that the activities “circumvent the quality control standards” it has in place to protect U.S. consumers. Franck Muller asked the court for a permanent injunction against the defendants and for damages equal to three times the profits made and damages incurred, plus at least $10 million. A representative for New York Buyer’s Jewelry said the lawsuit “is ridiculous.” The other defendants could not be reached for comment.

This story first appeared in the January 9, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management Inc., Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC and Victoria’s Secret Direct filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Nines USA Corp. Victoria’s Secret filed the complaint based on Nines alleged “unauthorized sale and distribution of apparel featuring plaintiffs’ pink dog copyrighted designs and trademark” on women’s underwear. Nines is listed in the complaint as a wholesale distributor of women’s lingerie and intimate apparel. Victoria’s Secret alleged copyright infringement, unfair competition and trademark infringement. The company asked the court to permanently restrain Nines from infringing on its trademarks and for unspecified statutory and punitive damages. Nines did not return a call seeking comment.

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