“When you have a case of this magnitude and you have companies that really feel they’re in the right, and take it more personally than as a legal matter, it’s hard to settle. When it comes down to it, they are pleased that the outcome went the way it did,” Darren Saunders, Marc Fisher Footwear’s lawyer, said about his client’s reaction to the decision.
While Gucci won part of its trademark infringement lawsuit against Guess and its licensees, including Marc Fisher and Signal Products Inc., it was awarded a fraction of the $221 million it was seeking. Instead, Judge Shira Scheindlin awarded Gucci $4.7 million, bringing the three-year fight to an end. (Guess will pay $2.1 million and Fisher Footwear, its exclusive footwear licensee, will pay $2.6 million.)
Gucci’s claim of counterfeiting by Guess et al was denied, but Guess was found to be guilty of diluting some of Gucci’s marks “by blurring.” Gucci also was granted a permanent injunction barring Guess from using the Quattro G pattern, the green-red-green stripe and certain square G marks.
Saunders said, “With as many marks and products as were involved, for anyone to expect a 100 percent win for either side and zero losses for the other is simply not realistic. The bottom line is 90 percent of the product Gucci claimed to be infringing was thrown out. This could’ve been devastating, but Gucci didn’t get the grand slam they were looking for.”
Susan Scafidi, a fashion law professor at Fordham University, said that the judge’s ruling likely stemmed, in part, from the lack of evidence produced by Gucci in court.
“Despite the claim of hundreds of styles being copied, the fact that not that many styles actually were [presented] probably influenced the final award,” Scafidi said. “Frankly, Gucci didn’t realistically expect the crazy number it asked for.”
Requests for additional comment from Marc Fisher Footwear were deferred to Saunders. An email to Gucci’s lawyer was not returned.
In deciding the amount to award for damages, Judge Scheindlin wrote in her decision that Gucci had no evidence and could only speculate as to actual damages in the form of lost sales or harm to brand value.
“The conclusions of infringement and dilution made above give rise to a presumption that Gucci has suffered irreparable harm in that it has lost goodwill towards its unique brand as well as the ability to control its reputation in the marketplace. Because these injuries cannot be quantified or fully remedied by a monetary award, I conclude that Gucci lacks an adequate remedy at law,” she added.
In a statement released Monday, Guess CEO Paul Marciano said, “Guess shares the sentiment expressed by the court that disputes like this should be resolved by companies rather than spilling over into the courts.”
He added, “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.”