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A federal judge in New York has agreed to allow Italian fashion house Gucci to pursue a $26 million trademark lawsuit against Guess. The suit, first filed 3 years ago, accuses the American clothing company of trying to "Gucci-ize" its products.
The Gucci-Guess lawsuit covers Gucci's green and red stripe design; its script logo; its stylized "Square G" logo; and the "Quattro G" -- a group of four interlocking "G"s. The company will only be able to pursue a traditional infringement theory -- the judge dismissed all claims alleging trademark dilution.
Gucci claims Guess produced a variety of goods that either copied or closely mimicked its designs, explains Reuters. Such an assertion is reasonable, according to the judge. It’s also reasonable to infer that "Guess acted in bad faith and developed designs that might cause consumer confusion."
Gucci was also found to have produced evidence showing that actual confusion did occur.
This ruling was a long time in the making, as Gucci and Guess spent a large chunk of the last 3 years fighting over privileged communications. In 2010, Gucci fired Jonathan Moss, its American general counsel. He had allowed his bar license to lapse, and was on inactive status during his entire stay at the company.
Guess tried to use Moss’ inactive status as a bar to attorney-client privilege. It lost.
Guess also tried to argue U.S. law did not govern communications between Gucci’s Italian legal department and those in other countries. It lost again.
Thus far, the Gucci-Guess suit looks like a big loser for the American company. Do you think it’s time to settle?