Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Burberry Sues J.C. Penney for Copying its Signature Check Design

Burberry Group Plc sued J.C. Penney Co., contending that the U.S. retailer has been using the British luxury-goods maker’s signature plaid design on a range of coats, jackets and scarves.

The suit, filed in a New York federal court Tuesday, alleges that J.C. Penney is selling a wide variety of products, including handbags and luggage, featuring the check design, which dates back to the 1920s. Burberry, which is based in London, is seeking a court order blocking the sale of the products and damages of as much as $2 million for each trademark it claims J.C. Penney infringed.

Representatives for Burberry and J.C. Penney declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Luxury-goods makers have become increasingly protective of their trademarks in recent years as they seek to justify the prices they charge for their goods and maintain their elitist appeal. Burberry is particularly vigilant, having spent millions of pounds over the past decade rebuilding its image after its signature plaid became popular with British soccer fans.

The company also has agreements with Web retailers Amazon.com Inc. and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to remove unauthorized goods from websites they operate in return for distributing merchandise.

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