Luxury retailer Tiffany sued Costco on Thursday, claiming that the popular U.S. discount warehouse chain has been selling counterfeit diamond engagement rings labeled with the company’s name. Filed in Manhattan federal court, the trademark lawsuit calls for Costco to forfeit its profits from the ring sales.
According to NBC News, the lawsuit is also seeking damages of $2 million per infringement.
If Tiffany is correct, thousands of Costco customers may have bought engagement rings that they thought were authentic Tiffany products but were actually knock-offs. It is fairly common for luxury retailers to sue to stop sales of alleged imitation products. High-end retailers like Tiffany think that when other businesses sell fake representations of their products it damages their brand and also creates issues with their customer base.
“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 for Tiffany.
Mitchell went on to say that Tiffany protects its business interests by maintaining an "aggressive and rigorous intellectual property program, and regularly takes actions against counterfeiters and infringers."
According to the lawsuit, a person who was shopping at a Costco in Huntington Beach, Calif., complained to Tiffany after she saw rings that were advertised as authentic Tiffany products for sale at the store. An investigation revealed that even though the rings were labeled with the Tiffany brand and a salesperson at the store referred to them as Tiffany rings, they were not.
Costco has yet to publicly comment on the matter.
Those interested in the matter can look it up. The case is Tiffany & Company and Tiffany (NJ) LLC v. Costco Wholesale Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 13-104.
Source: (NBC News)