Since becoming a well-known brand, Tory Burch‘s unique designs and patterns have been copied time and again. Last year, the company filed trademark infringement lawsuits against these companies who misappropriated the well-known designs. One of those lawsuits was filed against New York-based jewelry company, Lin & J International.
In the lawsuit, Tory Burch claimed that Lin & J misappropriated designs and patterns that are associated with the brand and was thus selling counterfeit jewelry. Lin & J responded with a counterclaim, asserting that Tory Burch engaged in unfair trade practices, tortious interference with it’s business, defamation and trademark infringement. It also claimed that it did not misappropriate any trademarks and that it’s jewelry was inspired by the Coptic cross.
The District Court, however, sided with Tory Burch and rules that Lin & J had in fact infringed on Tory Burch’s trademarks and was selling counterfeit products. The court then ordered Lin & J to pay damages in the amount of $38.9 million with attorneys’ fees amounting to $2.3 million.
This is an impressive ruling with a quite a large payout for Tory Burch. The ruling points to a trend that the law is moving towards helping fashion brands maintain the elements of their brand that signify the brand. Since copyright protection is not available to fashion brands, many have to rely on trademark and trade dress protection. Protecting a signifier of your brand is so important because the strength of the brand and its ability to stay competitive in a cutthroat industry like fashion and retail.
It’s good to see that fashion brands can protect their trademarks and not fall prey to a diluted brand identity because of counterfeit products in the marketplace. Lin & J has yet to respond to the ruling or file an appeal.