NEW YORK — Kate Spade LLC is fighting back.

This story first appeared in the January 22, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The New York-based accessories firm has filed a counterclaim against Platform LLC, the design firm it had hired in 2001 to enter the home category. Platform sued Kate Spade in November, alleging breach of contract and other associated charges. Kate Spade’s counterclaim was filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Jan. 12.

“Kate Spade LLC has filed a counterclaim against Platform LLC alleging that it did not fulfill the terms of its agreement and did not live up to its obligations,” said Barbara Kolsun, Kate Spade’s senior vice president and general counsel. “Platform chose to bring meritless claims and false accusations against Kate Spade, leaving us no choice but to countersue.”

According to the counterclaim, the agreement between the two parties obligated Platform “to design and assist in the development of the home collection, as well as to assist Kate Spade LLC with the identification of potential licensees and the negotiation of licenses to manufacture and sell six categories of home collection products.”

The lawsuit stated that only two categories had been launched by spring 2003. In addition, the counterclaim alleges that Stephen Werther, a principal at Platform, couldn’t supervise and perform the services that were agreed to as part of the contract. It states that Werther relocated to California in October 2002 to work for Disney Store Inc. without notifying Kate Spade LLC or having signed a single license, and that 15 months into the agreement, only one license had been signed, with Lenox Inc.

Because of the failure to perform, “Kate Spade LLC lost at least six months of valuable time — and consequently, an entire retail delivery season — in launching its home collection,” the counterclaim states.

Kate Spade terminated the agreement on March 27, 2003. It now seeks damages of $150,000, which it had advanced Platform against future royalties, as well as original and incomplete artwork, and other materials belonging to Kate Spade.

“The counterclaim does not deny the facts in our complaint,” said attorney Barry Slotnick, whose firm represents Platform in the case. “Essentially, they do not deny that Kate Spade took our client’s designs and did not pay for them. Kate Spade’s assertion that Platform’s performance was somehow inadequate is belied by the fact that Kate Spade is currently using Platform’s design work on a variety of its products, including a number of home products, as well as handbags, baby bags, strollers, wallets and other products. They should not be able to take our client’s design work and not pay for it.”