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The legal battle between Tiffany and Costco deepens
The legal battle between Tiffany and Costco deepens

Leaked email could affect Tiffany case

In yet another twist in the legal battle between Tiffany & Co and Costco, a leaked email has emerged, allegedly from Costco’s CEO, stating that he believed the company was wrong to use the term “Tiffany” to describe rings Costco was selling.

The email was reportedly sent to all Costco employees from CEO Craig Jelinek, saying he was disappointed that an amicable settlement hadn’t been reached. Instead, the dispute is being played out as suit and counter suit before the courts.
Initially, Tiffany & Co sued Costco for breaching its intellectual property (IP) rights for using the term Tiffany in a description about rings sold at the supermarket chain, Costco retaliated with countersuit claims, submitting documents asserting that the style of ring (with accompanying diagram) is commonly known as a Tiffany setting. 
Craig Jelinek, Costco CEO
Craig Jelinek, Costco CEO
Costco’s legal submission states: The word Tiffany is a generic term for ring settings comprising multiple slender prongs extending upward from a base to hold a single gemstone. The legal papers then include examples of dictionary entries, references, and advertisements using the word Tiffany to denote a type or style of ring setting.
Costco’s court papers also note: Costco has sold unbranded rings having Tiffany settings for many years.
According to internet site Brandchannel, Jelinek’s leaked email suggests the company had no intention of tricking consumers into purchasing rings they thought were from Tiffany & Co, and offered any misled consumers a full refund.
Jelinek’s email to staff stated, “In the past few years, we have sold some high-quality diamonds that were signed or labelled using the word "Tiffany." That was intended to describe a setting style used in those rings, and was not intended to claim that the rings were of any particular brand. In retrospect, it would have been better had we not used that description the way we did.”
What damage the email does to Costco’s hope of a favourable settlement is anyone’s guess.
However, a ruling in Costco’s favour could open the floodgates on a range of intellectual property (IP) matters, and the fact that both companies are aggressive litigants makes the case compelling.

Tiffany rep deconstructing setting


Wednesday, 19 September, 2018 02:52pm
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