Coach Sues Ross Stores and American Flyer for Counterfeiting.

LOS ANGELES, June 19, 2009 -- Leather goods company Coach initiated legal proceedings today against the Ross discount stores and its suppliers for allegedly selling and manufacturing counterfeit COACH products.

Coach was founded more than 60 years ago as a family-run workshop in a Manhattan loft. Since that time. Coach has manufactured, marketed and sold leather and mixed material products including: purses, travel cases, briefcases, planner, diaries, leather goods, watches, eyewear, footwear, apparel and accessories.

A Coach investor purchased luggage from a Ross store located in Alhambra, California in or around June, 2009 that bore composites/patterns confusingly similar to that of the signature "C" Coach logo and mimicking the overall appearance of a Coach design.

New Jersey's Naluco, Inc., which trades as American Flyer, is accused of manufacturing the luggage which was sold at Ross. According to the complaint, Naluco also sells the same luggage on its web site at www.americanflyer.com.

Counts for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. Coach is seeking the destruction of all counterfeit items in addition to the maximum allowable damages and an injunction prohibiting the product and sale of similar products.

The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is to prevent consumer confusion regarding the source of goods and services. The first party to use a trademark may prohibit other parties from using a mark subsequently in connection with similar goods or services if it so resembles the original mark as to cause confusion. The trademarks do not have to identical, but similar enough that it is likely to cause confusion. If the later mark is so similar, it is deemed to infringe on the prior mark.

Coach owns a number of registered trademarks in the United States and throughout the world.

In assessing damages of a federally registered trademark, the court may enter judgment for any sum above the amount found as actual damages, up to three times. When a court finds a defendant intentionally counterfeited a registered trademark, the court must, unless the court finds extenuating circumstances, enter judgment for three times such profits or damages, whichever is greater, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, offered for sale, or distributed.

In addition to alleging trademark infringement, Coach has pled a claim of trademark dilution. The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is protect consumers, even though the owner of the trademark receives any monetary judgment awarded. Trademark dilution laws protect the property interest in a trademark with its "uniqueness" and the good will associated therein.

The packaging or overall appearance of a product, known as trade dress, can be so unique as to serve as an identifier of the source of the product which is entitled to protection under the law. Like a trademark, the first party to adopt a trade dress has the superior claim of ownership and can prohibit others from using something similar.

Trade dress can be registered with the U.S. government. Registration offers the registrant benefits such as: notice to the public of use and ownership, the ability to recovery attorneys fees, and punitive damages against willful infringers.

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