Wednesday, July 16, 2014
As we noted in February, Preferred Fragrance, its former chief, and the company that acquired it were sued by L Brands, Inc. for trademark infringement. LB claimed that a series of PF products too closely resembled those of its own Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works brands: VS Coconut Passion versus PF Coconut Dream, VS Mango Temptation versus PF Mango Seduction, and so on.
L Brands was looking for a jury trial in Federal court, destruction of the infringing products, disgorgement of profits, and treble damages. In anticipation of a good courtroom battle FN ordered up a supply of popcorn. Sadly, we never got around to popping it.
Yesterday FN commenter “Alex” (why the private Blogger profile, dude?) asked about the status of the lawsuit. We checked and lo and behold, discovered that the case had been settled less than a week ago. Hmmm. So how did it play out?
LB filed the complaint on February 6. There followed a bunch of boring, routine legal filings. Then, on April 25, attorneys for former PF head Ezriel Polatsek filed a motion to have him dismissed from the lawsuit. They claimed LB had failed to state a specific claim against him and that he was in the complaint solely because he was a corporate officer of JPF at the time of the alleged infringement, which by itself is not sufficient basis to hold him liable for the company’s actions. Judge Gregory Frost ordered a hearing on the motion and April 29 LB’s attorneys agreed to dismiss the claims against Polatsek.
By May 14, both sides had apparently reached a settlement. After some delays, the case was officially closed on July 10 (“Stipulated Dismissal With Prejudice” Case 2:14-cv-139-GLF-NMK Doc #33).
The terms of settlement have not, to our knowledge, been made public. There appears to have been no public statement by any of the parties. Mr. Polatsek seems to have wriggled off the hook. However we can no longer find the allegedly infringing Preferred Fragrance products for sale on the web. Does this mean PF quietly folded and pulled the items in question? Perhaps. From an economic point of view, knock-off brand may consider out of court settlements simply a cost of doing business. Of course it’s possible that L Brands, Inc. got spanked so badly in the negotiations that it agreed to go home quietly and empty-handed.