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Gucci America Inc., the maker of luxury clothing and accessories, told a federal judge that Guess? Inc. (GES)’s products infringe Gucci’s trademarked designs.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin today began conducting a trial without a jury on Gucci’s infringement claim in Manhattan.
Gucci, a unit of Paris-based PPR (PP), sued in 2009 claiming that Los Angeles-based Guess was selling items in stores and online with logos that are “studied imitations of the Gucci trademarks.” The trademarks include a green and red stripe design, a square G, the designer’s name in flowing script and a diamond pattern with repeating interlocking G’s, according to Gucci’s court filings.
“It’s about a massive, complicated scheme to knock off Gucci’s best-known and iconic designs,” Louis Ederer, Gucci’s lawyer, told the judge today. The company claims that $221 million worth of Guess products infringed Gucci designs.
Guess said in court papers that Gucci can’t claim infringement because it “sat on its rights” for at least seven years before suing. Guess also said Gucci’s surveys failed to prove that consumers would be misled by the designs.
Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Guess, said in his opening remarks that of 1,495 Guess products Gucci claimed were infringing, 99 percent “could never be confused with Gucci.”
“The numbers don’t add up,” Petrocelli said. “If there was a scheme, it failed miserably.”
He said many Guess products sell for less than $100 and are geared toward young women who can’t afford luxury goods like Gucci’s, which can sell for thousands of dollars.
Gucci is seeking monetary damages and other assessments totaling more than $124 million, according to court papers.
Defendants also include Marc Fisher Footwear, Guess’s exclusive licensee for footwear, the Max Leather Group and Swank Inc. (SNKI)
“There was neither an intent to copy nor an intent to deceive,” Darren Saunders, a lawyer for Marc Fisher, said in his opening remarks today.
The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.
PPR fell 2 percent to 130.5 euros in Paris Stock Market trading. Guess dropped 1.4 percent to $31.36 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. (GES)
The case is Gucci America v. Guess Inc., 09-4373, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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