The Fashion Law Exclusive - A New York City-based jewelry design company that was sued by Tory Burch in May, filed its answer to Burch's complaint, as well as some counterclaims of its own, today in the S.D.N.Y. court. In its counter suit, Lin & J International accuses the billionaire fashion designer of using "sham lawsuits" to conceal her copying of its designs. The counterclaims further allege that the designer is guilty of unfair trade practices, tortious interference with its business relationships, defamation, and trademark infringement. “Don’t be fooled by Tory Burch’s commando-style litigation and media blitz. Tory Burch is well aware that my client introduced its 'Isis Cross' design over four years ago – long before she introduced her line,” says Howard Myerowitz, the attorney for Lin & J International and several of its distributors.
Lin & J International had sales last year of $2.2 million. According to Myerowitz: “Tory Burch might be bigger in terms of market share, but might doesn’t make you right. If Tory Burch wants a fight, she’s got one."
In related news, Tory Burch (in connection with River Light V, L.P., the owner of Tory Burch's IP rights) filed another one of its routine trademark infringement lawsuits today in an Illinois Northern District Court against an array of defendants. The Tory Burch legal team regularly files such suits in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami courts - with over ten lawsuits pending so far this summer.
This is not uncommon behavior for the owner of a well-known trademark (as trademark owners have the duty to police those marks from unauthorized use). Coach, Chanel (which actually filed two suits today in a southern Florida court, against a total of 2000 web domains that have been selling counterfeit "Chanel" products), Ugg Boots' parent company Decker, and others regularly file similar suits, as well. More to come ...