In a year rife with counterfeit lawsuits filed by Tory Burch to protect her famous TT logo, the designer brand is now faced with a suit itself as the defendant, a New York company Lin & J, recently struck back with a countersuit. Lin & J own a wholesale brand called Isis that sells rings, necklaces, and earrings Tory Burch asserts are counterfeits of the brand’s own jewelry. However, Lin & J deny that the Isis jewelry pieces are copies and that similarities are coincidental. In their counterclaim, Lin & J accuse Tory Burch of copying their design instead. Besides trademark infringement, they are suing the fashion brand for unfair trade practices, tortious interference with its business relationships and defamation.
Tory Burch had sued Lin & J earlier this May after claiming that the company was responsible for selling counterfeits of Tory Burch jewelry to retailers since 2012, but Lin & J claim that their jewelry are original designs based on the Isis, or Coptic, cross, and have been making Cross jewelry for years. The image of the Isis cross has existed for thousands of years, originating from the crosses Coptic Christians carved into the walls of the Temple of Isis, the Egyptian goddess, when they turned the temple into a Christian church. According to Lin & J’s lawyer, “Tory Burch is well aware that my client introduced its ‘Isis Cross’ design over four years ago—long before she introduced her line.”
This argument seems questionable, however, in light of the fact that Tory Burch established her company and brand first as TRB by Tory Burch in 2004. Tory Burch has numerous trademarks registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office using the TT logo, among the earliest filed in September 2003 and registered in December 2005, with first use of commerce in 2004 on fashion goods including clothes, accessories, and jewelry. Meanwhile, Lin & J was started in 2005.
While the Tory Burch trademark bears a close resemblance to some of the Isis jewelry, it is not clear that the likeness is a result of copying on either side, or of coincidence. Based on the immense popularity of Burch’s apparel and accessories however, it seems more plausible that if there was any knocking off going on, it was probably on the part of Lin & J. But seeing as the company is actually countersuing, there may be more than meets the eye in this case.
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Stock image: http://foter.com/f/photo/3912902752/edd29c71fc/