Burberry Suing Target for Trademark Infringement of Iconic Check Pattern
British fashion house Burberry is suing retailer Target for trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting over what it calls “repeated, willful, and egregious misappropriation” of a “famous iconic” design that Burberry has used on a number of its products.
The suit, filed last week in federal court in New York, claims Target used a checkered print on eyeglasses, a stainless steel water bottle, luggage, and scarves that is a copy of one that Burberry has used since 1920 on products like trench coats and scarves.
“Although Target’s copycat scarves are of inferior quality, they are superficially indistinguishable from genuine Burberry scarves,” the lawsuit claims. “Target’s sale of these infringing scarves is all the more egregious given that Target had received a cease-and-desist letter from Burberry in early 2017 regarding the sale of several different products bearing unauthorized reproductions of the BURBERRY CHECK Trademark.”
The lawsuit contends that the items sold by Target were not approved by Burberry, and it claims that the check print on Target items could cause consumers to believe that the items were endorsed by Burberry.
“Moreover,” the suit claims, “Target’s well-publicized history of collaborating with popular brands and fashion designers to promote and sell Target-exclusive limited edition collections further heightens the risk of such consumer confusion.”
“At Target, we have great respect for design rights,” Target said in a statement to Fortune. “We are aware of the filing by Burberry and hope to address the matter in a reasonable manner.”
Burberry is seeking $2 million for each trademark violation along with damages “to the full extent available.” Burberry has brought similar suits against J.C. Penney (which was settled out of court in 2016) and TJX (parent company of TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls) in 2010. The fashion house also won a suit against Chinese websites using the Burberry name and selling counterfeit items in 2012.
The Classic Check cashmere scarf sells for $430, according to the Burberry website. Although Fortune did not see the checked scarf (pictured above) on Target’s website, so-called Fashion Scarves with a similar print were available on Target’s website for $12.99.