When we last wrote about the epic trademark war that Gucci launched against Guess in 2009, we noted that the case made headlines soon after the first filing. Apparently Gucci’s former in-house counsel, Jonathan Moss, had been engaging in faux lawyering, and he paid for it dearly — with his job.
Gucci v. Guess has been a dramatic roller coaster ride ever since, complete with men crying on the witness stand, and hours upon hours of in-court questioning for one company’s chief executive officer.
But as we noted in Morning Docket, a verdict has finally been reached in the case, and it looks like Guess will have to own up to its fashion faux pas with a payout of more than $4 million dollars in damages. But how will this ruling affect the fashion world at large? Let’s take a look….
In case you haven’t been following the case, Gucci sued Guess in the spring of 2009 for selling items with “studied imitations of the Gucci trademarks.” (See the picture featured above for an example.) In the complaint, the high-end fashion house alleged that Guess had attempted to “Gucci-fy” their product line by infringing or counterfeiting four of Gucci’s trademarks and one instance of Gucci’s trade dress.
But according to Bloomberg, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin weighed in Gucci’s favor on four out of the five trademark crimes of fashion alleged. Scheindlin, however, noted in her opinion (available here) that “courts have uniformly restricted trademark counterfeiting claims to those situations where entire products have been copied stitch-for-stitch” — which could explain why Gucci didn’t receive the full $221 million in damages that the fashion house was after.
And Judge Scheindlin had a flair for the dramatic herself, which she elegantly displayed in her closing:
Cases like this won’t just disappear, though, especially when Guess’s CEO, Paul Marciano, wants to keep the public guessing as to whether the company will continue to dilute the marks in question. Much like Penn Law did when it received a cease-and-desist letter from Louis Vuitton, it seems like Marciano wants to tell Gucci to shove this ruling right up its high-fashion ass. Pretty ballsy. What’s his plan?