Guess and Gucci District Court Opinion
Today the US District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an opinion and order in the three-year lawsuit by Gucci America against Guess and various licensees. Guess shares the sentiment expressed by the Court that disputes like this should be resolved by companies rather than spilling over into the courts.
Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman of PPR, the parent company of Gucci, recently repeated the same sentiment about the Christian Louboutin versus Yves Saint Laurent lawsuit, saying it is counterproductive to fight in court. We hope Mr. Pinault will take this to heart and stop applying a double standard.
Although Gucci's lawsuit complained about designs that Guess has been using for years – including since the 1980s and 1990s, Guess never received a single complaint from Gucci in all the years before the lawsuit was filed in 2009. In fact, the evidence at trial showed that Guess's use of one of the key designs in the case – Guess's Square letter G - was far more extensive than Gucci's use.
Gucci's lawsuit asked for damages of approximately, $100 million dollars, tripled. The opinion and order resulted in an award of damages of approximately $2.5 million against Guess and our handbag and belt licensee and approximately $2 million against our footwear licensee. The Court enjoined use of a version of Guess's Quattro G Diamond pattern that Guess, on its own initiative, stopped using after Gucci filed its complaint. Guess is free to use, and will continue to use, its original Quattro G diamond pattern.
In my opinion, the results in this case show that Gucci grossly overreached in its claims and the entire case could have been avoided with a single letter or phone call. Gucci has also tried to attack Guess in other jurisdictions, but Guess will vigorously defend its rights in all of these cases and is confident that its position will be vindicated.
We hope that Gucci takes a lesson from today's legal ruling and will put its efforts into competing in the marketplace and not in court. In that regard, Gucci would be well served to look into its own designs and sources of inspiration, such as the recent claims by Roberto Cavalli in the February 24, 2012 edition of WWD, "accusing Gucci of 'entirely' copying his designs from two years ago and last season."
Source: Guess?, Inc.
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