By Bernard Vaughan and Jonathan Stempel
Feb 14 Tiffany & Co sued Costco
Wholesale Corp on Thursday to stop the largest U.S.
warehouse club chain from selling what it called counterfeit
diamond engagement rings bearing the luxury retailer's name.
The trademark lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court also
calls on Costco to forfeit profits from the ring sales, plus
damages of $2 million per infringement.
Tiffany said it believes hundreds, if not thousands, of
Costco members bought engagement rings they believed were
authentic Tiffany products but in fact were not.
Luxury retailers often sue to stop sales of alleged
imitation products they believe cut into their own revenue
streams and customer goodwill.
"This is not the kind of behavior people expect from a
company like Costco, and this case will shed a much needed light
on this outrageous behavior," said Jeffrey Mitchell, a lawyer
Mitchell also noted in the statement that Tiffany maintains
an "aggressive and rigorous intellectual property program, and
regularly takes actions against counterfeiters and infringers."
A spokesman for Costco was not immediately available.
In November 2012, a person who was shopping at a Costco in
Huntington Beach, Calif., complained to Tiffany that she was
disappointed to see Costco offering for sale what were promoted
on in-store signs as Tiffany diamond engagement rings, according
to the lawsuit.
A subsequent investigation revealed rings in a display case
at the Huntington Beach Costco labeled with the Tiffany brand
and that a salesperson there referred to them as Tiffany rings
when they were not, according to the lawsuit. Tiffany also
discovered that Costco was not using the Tiffany trademarks
online for the same products at the same time to avoid
detection, according to the lawsuit.
The case is Tiffany & Company and Tiffany (NJ) LLC v. Costco
Wholesale Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New