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Jewelry Exchange Wins Unfair Competition Suit

Mar 20, 1998 4:45 PM  
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(Rapaport…NY, Mar. 21, 1998) The Jewelry Exchange (JE), and parent company Goldenwest Diamond Corporation, a seven store manufacturing and retail chain based in Tustin, California, were recently awarded in excess of $2 million from a lawsuit against 14K Jewelry Mart Exchange (14K), Inc. in circumstances dating back to 1994. A jury found 14K guilty of unfair competition and of infringing the JE trade name and trademark.

According to Goldenwest Chief Executive Officer William Doddridge, the crime took place during the holiday season of 1994, when 14K, after buying a property directly next door to JE, proceeded to hang misleading signs intended to make consumers believe that 14K was JE. The company even went so far as to hang tarps covering up JE signs and place agents in the parking lot telling customers that 14K was JE.

JE, with annual sales of over $40 million, spent more than $1 million that year on advertising and was forced to watch while 14K illegally reeled in its customers.

Lead attorney for Goldenwest, F. Elliot Goldman, stated that the verdict "sends a message to all businesses that juries will not condone business practices that seek to mislead and confuse customers as to whom they are dealing with." He continued, "the verdict sends a message that businesses profiting from the name and goodwill of their competitors will be penalized."

According to Doddridge, the case was important not only because JE received just reward for damages, but also because the jury upheld the legality of the trademark name: Jewelry Exchange. "People think that Jewelry Exchange is a generic name, but they need to know that it is a trademark and they will be liable."

Tags: Consumers, Jewelry, Manufacturing
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