- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A federal judge on Monday ordered Costco to pay Tiffany & Co. more than $19 million for selling generic solitaire diamond engagement rings marketed as “Tiffany” and forbid the retailer to sell rings under “Tiffany” signage without accompanying words such as “style,” “set” or “setting.”

Tiffany & Co. sued Costco after the company discovered the retail giant was selling engagement rings marketed as “Tiffany” rings in its stores since 2007. In 2016, a jury found Costco should pay back its profits, which it made from the rings, and punitive damages to the luxury jeweler for committing trademark counterfeiting and infringement.

Costco argued the term “Tiffany” described the type of ring setting made famous by the jeweler, which was consistent with industry practice, rather than claiming to be made by Tiffany & Co., and that the inside of the rings had been marked by the actual manufacturer.

“Costco used Tiffany’s trademark to attract customer attention to the fine jewelry items,” wrote U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain for the Southern District of New York in her opinion. “The fact that some sort of marking other than Tiffany’s actual marking appeared inside the generic rings is insufficient to indicate that Costco’s use of the Tiffany mark was not an intentionally deceptive marketing ploy.”

After Judge Swain’s order, Costco released a statement that it intends to appeal.

“Tiffany first complained to Costco…in late 2012. Costco promptly changed its signs to omit all references to Tiffany (even the phrases “Tiffany set” and “Tiffany setting” as to which Tiffany later conceded Costco has no liability). Costco also proceeded voluntarily to provide Tiffany with information concerning its sales and profits on the rings sold under the Tiffany signs; this process was underway when Tiffany filed a lawsuit on Valentine’s Day, with enormous attendant publicity,” read Costco’s statement.

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