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Coach sues Gap for selling 'Coach' T-shirts

Published 04/03/2024, 06:43 PM
Updated 04/03/2024, 07:11 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a store of the Coach luxury fashion retailer in a shopping district in Beijing, China, October 19, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Luxury handbag maker Coach sued Gap on Wednesday, accusing the retailer's Old Navy unit of illegally selling T-shirts emblazoned with the word "Coach."

In a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court, Coach and its parent, Tapestry (NYSE:TPR), said they never gave Gap permission to sell the T-shirts, and the sale was likely to confuse customers into believing Coach was involved.

They said this had caused "irreparable harm" because Coach trademarks symbolized "a unique blend of fashion, craftsmanship, style, and function" reflected in the sale of "luxury lifestyle items," not T-shirts. Coach was founded in 1941.

Gap, based in San Francisco, declined to comment, saying it does not discuss pending litigation.

Coach, based in New York, is seeking unspecified damages for trademark infringement, counterfeiting and violations of a California unfair competition law. It also wants the destruction of unsold inventory of infringing clothing.

Many luxury retailers file lawsuits to thwart the sale of alleged knockoffs, though the defendants are often small businesses, importers and website operators rather than publicly traded companies such as Gap.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a store of the Coach luxury fashion retailer in a shopping district in Beijing, China, October 19, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

A lawyer for Coach did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

The case is Tapestry Inc et al v Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 24-02697.

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