Guess? Copied Gucci Logo on Clothes, U.S. Judge Rules

Guess? Inc. copied some trademarked logos for clothing and accessories made by Gucci America Inc., and Gucci is entitled to $4.66 million in damages, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin decided in favor of Gucci on four of five trademarks at issue after conducting a three-week infringement trial without a jury in Manhattan, according to a filing today in federal court. The trial ended April 19.

“With the instant disputes now resolved and with Gucci’s entitlement to the relief noted above, it is my hope that this ugliness will be limited to the runway and shopping floor, rather than spilling over into the courts,” Scheindlin said in her opinion. She was referring to Oscar Wilde’s description of fashion as “a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

Gucci, a unit of Paris-based PPR, sued in 2009, claiming that Los Angeles-based Guess was selling clothing and accessories in stores and online with logos that are “studied imitations of the Gucci trademarks.” The trademarks included a green and red stripe design, a diamond pattern that repeats and interlocks the letter G, the designer’s name in flowing script and a square G.

‘Bad Faith’

Scheindlin ruled that Guess, in some products, infringed all the trademarks except for the name in flowing script. She said Guess must stop selling products with colored stripes, a square G and a pattern with G in the corners.

Louis Ederer, a lawyer for Gucci, said in his closing argument in the trial that Guess engaged in “a calculated scheme to infringe on some of Gucci’s most iconic trademarks.” Gucci sought monetary damages and other assessments totaling as much as $120 million.

The result of the case shows that “Gucci grossly overreached in its claims,” Paul Marciano, chief executive officer of Guess, said in a statement. “The entire case could have been avoided with a single letter or phone call.”

Guess said in court papers that Gucci had no right to 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 confused by the designs.

‘No Evidence’

“They have no evidence of actual confusion and they have no lost sales or diverted sales,” Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Guess, said in his closing argument.

The defendants also included Guess’s exclusive footwear licensee Marc Fisher Footwear, the Max Leather Group and Swank Inc.

PPR rose 35 cents to 119.40 euros in Paris trading. Guess fell 4 cents to $24.47 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

The case is Gucci America v. Guess Inc., 09-4373, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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