GUCCI FINED $162K FOR COPYING LVMH
PARIS — LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton declared a victory Tuesday in its ongoing war against rival luxury giant Gucci Group.
A Paris court, the Third Chamber of the Tribunal de Grande Instance, ordered Gucci to pay $162,000 in damages for copying two men’s shoe styles retailed by LVMH-owned luxury shoemaker Berluti. Gucci “reproduced [the shoes’] characteristics+committing an act of counterfeit,” the court wrote in its judgement.
A Gucci spokesman said the company would appeal the decision and characterized it as “another attempt by LVMH to harass Gucci legally.”
The judgement stipulates that Gucci foot a bill, not to exceed $28,000, to publish the ruling in four newspapers of Berluti’s choice. Gucci was also ordered to turn over outstanding stock of the shoes for destruction and it was forbidden to retail the shoes in the future.
Designer Olga Berluti called the decision a “triumph” for devotees of her designs.
“Initially, it was our customers who brought the counterfeits to our attention,” she said. “They were outraged that another company would copy their shoes.”
Berluti, a descendant of house founder Alessandro Berluti, described one of the models Gucci copied as a shoe created about 40 years ago for the late French film director Francois Truffaut. The other was a boot, she said. Berluti declined to provide further details. LVMH acquired Berluti in 1993.
The Gucci spokesman called the decision a “relatively small issue from a business perspective” and argued that the shoes in question did not infringe upon Berluti’s rights.
“There are often similarities in design. We had a comparable situation with Dior regarding a handbag,” he said. “Dior, however, agreed to change the design of its handbag — without going to court.”
Although the Paris court handed down its decision Jan. 23, an LVMH spokesman said the company decided to make the judgement public Tuesday. He declined further comment. Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, which owns a 42 percent stake in Gucci, and LVMH, which owns 20.6 percent of Gucci, are engaged in a protracted legal battle. Last week, the two groups faced off in the Enterprise Chamber of Amsterdam’s Court of Appeals, with LVMH arguing the court should annul Gucci’s alliance with PPR. A decision is expected March 8.
PPR stepped in as Gucci’s white knight after a hostile takeover attempt by LVMH in 1999.