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By Michelle Graff Jun 19, 2012
Brooklyn, N.Y.--The Swatch Group (U.S.) Inc. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a watch manufacturer and ShopNBC, claiming that they are selling a watch that is a knockoff of the Hamilton “Ventura,” a timepiece that has a long history of Hollywood appearances.
According to the lawsuit, filed June 11 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Stührling Original LLC created a watch called the “Stührling Ricochet,” that is allegedly an intentional copy of the Ventura trade dress.
The company, a Brooklyn-based watch manufacturer, has marketed, promoted, advertised and sold these “unlawful and unauthorized reproductions” through online retailers such as Amazon.com and ShopNBC.com and on the ShopNBC television network, court papers state. The Stührling Ricochet appeared to have been removed from ShopNBC.com as of Monday, as search for the term did not yield any results.
Swatch Group filed suit against Stührling, ShopNBC and its parent company ValueVision Media Inc. for trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising under the federal Lanham Act and under the laws of New York state.
It was not immediately clear why Amazon.com was not included in the suit.
Stührling said the lawsuit has no basis and it intends to defend itself vigorously. “There are a lot of triangular watches out in the marketplace,” said Stührling Chief Operating Officer Barry Kaplan, noting that there are several brands that have made triangular watches “without any legal action from the Swatch Group.”
“We really don’t feel that the lawsuit has any validity,” he said.
ShopNBC did not respond to request for comment on Monday.
Hamilton, an American watch brand that dates back to 1892, introduced the Ventura in 1957 as the world’s first electric, battery-powered watch. The watch has a “distinctive shape and design elements,” including a shield-shaped case and bezel with points at 1 o’clock, 5 o’clock and 9 o’clock, scalloping along two edges of the case and a crown at 3 o’clock, court papers state.
Since its introduction in the late 1950s, the Ventura has found its way onto the wrists of various celebrities, including The Twilight Zone host Rod Serling, Elvis Presley in the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii and, more recently, on an episode of the AMC television series Mad Men.
Actor Will Smith donned a Hamilton Ventura reissue in all three Men in Black movies, the last of which came out this year and “broke box office records,” grossing more than $135 million in the United States, according to court papers.
This most recent release, Men in Black III, is what spurred the lawsuit, with Swatch Group claiming in court papers that Lawrence Magen, president of Stührling’s North American operations, appeared on ShopNBC during a segment on the Stührling Ricochet and the segment’s host said, “If memory serves, there is another motion picture release now where this is once again being touted.”
Swatch Group is asking the court for a permanent injunction banning the creation and sale of these watches and monetary damages in the case.
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