Burberry sues J.C. Penney for selling knockoff jackets, scarves

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Burberry Group Plc BRBY.L, the British luxury fashion brand, sued J. C. Penney Co JCP.N on Tuesday, accusing the U.S. retailer of trademark infringement for selling outerwear that featured exact copies of its famous "Burberry check" pattern.

Customers ride the escalator at a J.C. Penney store in New York August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

In a complaint filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan, Burberry accused J.C. Penney of illegally selling “quilted jackets” with the pattern, as well as “scarf coats” in which scarves carrying the pattern were sold with matching coats.

Burberry said it has used its check trademark since the 1920s, in its original red, camel, black and white color combination as well as other combinations.

It said J.C. Penney kept selling its infringing products for two months after the Plano, Texas-based retailer learned of Burberry’s objections.

The Levy Group, a Manhattan distributor accused of supplying the infringing merchandise, was also named as a defendant.

“Even though defendants’ infringing products are of inferior quality, they appear superficially similar to genuine Burberry products,” Burberry said. “Defendants’ actions are intended to deceive and mislead consumers into believing that defendants’ or their products are authorized, sponsored by or connected to Burberry.”

J.C. Penney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Levy had no one available to comment.

The lawsuit seeks a halt to further infringements, plus either triple damages, the disgorgement of illegal profit, or up to $2 million for each infringed trademark.

Founded in 1856, Burberry is one of many luxury brands to sue over the sale of alleged knockoffs that they fear can reduce sales, or damage reputations and customer goodwill.

The case is Burberry Ltd v. J.C. Penney Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-00982.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Steve Orlofsky