DENIM DISH

Levi’s on the Mark
Levi Strauss & Co. has won a lawsuit against Quebec jeans maker Lois Canada, charging that Lois infringed on its trademarks in the sale of millions of pairs of jeans.
The case started in 1981 and was one of the longest-running trademark disputes in Canadian history. It centered on two well-known Levi trademarks — its red tag emblem and the curved stitching on the back pockets.
Lois argued that Levi’s trademarks did not apply in Canada because the stitching and red tag had been used by several Canadian jeans makers since 1934. It said Levi’s cannot claim trademarks on designs already in wide use.
Under the judgment, filed in the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto on Nov. 4, Lois was found to have infringed on both trademarks by using a black tag similar to Levi’s and the same curved stitching. The company was ordered to pay Levi’s a penalty based on all profits made from the sale of jeans using the offending trademarks.
The amount of the penalty has not been determined, but Levi’s said in court documents that it sold more than $450 million worth of jeans in Canada between 1974, when Lois was founded, and 1984. No sales figures for Lois are available, but the company said in court documents that it sold more than three million pairs of jeans with the trademarks in question between 1974 and 1981.
Arthur Renaud, an attorney for Lois, declined to comment on any aspect of the case. Lois was also ordered to give Levi’s all packaging, advertising and labeling that used the trademarks. In addition, Lois is prohibited from passing its jeans off as Levi’s.
Levi’s said it plans similar court action against several other Canadian jeans makers over the same issue.
In other Levi’s news, the company has borrowed $800 million through the private-placement market.
Levi’s has sold $450 million in 10-year, 7 percent notes priced at 99.601 to yield 7.056 percent. It has also issued $350 million in 6.8 percent notes due November 2003, priced at 99.637 to yield 6.866 percent.
Private placements are sold to institutional investors, principally insurance companies. Since the buyers are considered sophisticated investors, private-placement issues need not meet the registration requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a public-debt issue.
Also, the privately held company will not have to file quarterly financial reports with the SEC.

Lee’s Triple Play
The figures are in for Lee Apparel’s “Natural Denim Day” campaign on Oct. 25: The company raised $3.5 million for breast-cancer research, more than triple its original estimate of $1 million.
The campaign requested that companies allow their employees to wear denim to work in exchange for a $5 contribution to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. More than 3,000 organizations participated, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s Eastern region office, the Navajo Nation and the Detroit Pistons.
In other Lee news, Jamie Lockard has been named director of brand advertising at Lee Apparel Co., succeeding Lee advertising manager David Smith, who will become director of marketing for Wrangler Europe.
Lockard, who reports to Ellen Rohde, vice president of strategic planning and advertising for Lee, has been with the firm since February 1989 and held posts in market research, retail partnerships and marketing administration.

The Guess Touch
In its newest freestanding store, which opened Nov. 7 in Dadeland, Fla., Guess interacts with its customers in a new way — through a touch-sensitive computer kiosk in the middle of the 6,000-square-foot store.
The computer guides customers through various Guess data such as a history of the company, product specifics and other store locations. Once shoppers have zeroed in on their preferred merchandise, they can print out the information. At the same time, four large-screen TVs mounted above the jeans wall display the item, while a voice reads out the name and fit style.
The TV screens will also project Guess commercials. While only one person can actually work with the computer at a time, the voice and video will cue other shoppers about product.
“It’s a very early experiment with interactive technology,” said Andrea Weiss, general manager and president of retail sales for Guess. “But we’re very excited about what this platform can do, and we do plan to roll it out to our A stores, such as Las Vegas and Hawaii.”
Weiss said that in addition to being fun and informative for customers, the company will use the data the computer collects for its own trend tracking and market research.
The new store had exceeded its sales plan by 60 percent in the first week, with bestsellers coming from such groups as the contemporary sportswear label Guess Collection’s sequin sweaters and stretch velvet holiday looks, Weiss said. Footwear, she said, has also proven strong for the location, making up 15 percent of total business.

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