French fashion house, Chanel, is facing a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta division, after alleging Button Jewelry by Val Colbert (BJVC) of trademark infringement of its products.
Button Jewelry by Val Colbert, is a Georgia based company that creates jewelry from antique and designer buttons, coins and semi precious stones including but not limited to necklaces, pendants, and bracelets.
According to a declaratory judgment complaint filed by BJVC, one line of its products “re-purposes” Chanel buttons, turning them into jewelry. In 2008, Chanel contacted the company, which claimed that the use of the buttons amounted to infringement of its ‘Chanel’ trademark. The company denied any infringement to Chanel in 2008. However, in 2012, Chanel authenticated the buttons used by BJVC to the Mexican custom authorities, but no direct contact with BJVC,” the complaint says.
After several years of silence, in September of 2013, Chanel wrote BJVC again “alleging unauthorized use, counterfeiting and infringement of its Chanel trademarks”, the complaint states. An almost identical letter was sent to Accessory Drawer, an independent wholesale showroom in Atlanta, Georgia, which sold BJVC’s products. “On information and belief, immediately afterwards, Chanel sent similar letters to at least two customers and directed several unauthorized seizures of goods,” BJVC’s complaint says. BJVC added that it denied any wrongdoing and sought a meeting with Chanel, but that Chanel rejected the request and reiterated its claims. “As a result, there is an actual controversy between the parties that is ripe for judicial determination,” the complaint says.
BJVC is seeking declaratory relief and is asking the court to rule that it has not infringed any trademarks and that Chanel is restrained from issuing legal action against it.
WIPR reports, Colin Fowler, an associate at law firm Rouse in London, said: “Chanel put its famous logo on the buttons of some, no doubt exquisite, items of apparel. It did not consent to the use of the logo, or the buttons, on the jewelery involved here.” “The fact that the button is original makes no difference to the damage caused to Chanel if customers and the general public seeing these products assume that the whole product is from, or has been authorized by, Chanel.
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