Looks like Target is the one being targeted this time. Burberry, the British luxury brand known for its high end clothing, accessories, and fragrances, has marked Target as the subject of their latest lawsuit. Burberry alleges that the Minneapolis-based retail giant is counterfeiting its iconic check plaid pattern and is confusing consumers between the two brands. They also claim that Target committed “repeated, willful, and egregious misappropriation” of its trademark on multiple occasions by selling scarves, eyewear, luggage and other accessories that imitated Burberry’s exclusive check plaid design.
According to the complaint filed by Burberry on May 3 in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan, in early 2017, they sent a cease-and-desist letter to Target regarding the alleged knockoffs. They claim that Target continued the sales despite the notice. The suit alleges that “Target’s pattern and practice of offering for sale and selling various products featuring the Burberry Check Trademark or confusingly similar variants thereof must end.” Burberry further claims that retail chain’s sales of such products have confused consumers by causing them “to believe mistakenly that the infringing products are either affiliated with, endorsed or authorized by, or somehow connected to Burberry.”
Burberry explained that “[a]lthough Target’s copycat scarves are of inferior quality, they are superficially indistinguishable from genuine Burberry scarves . . . . 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.”
Target responded with a statement of their own, saying that their company has “great respect for design rights,” and that they “are aware of the filing by Burberry and hope to address the matter in a reasonable manner.”
Burberry is known for aggressively litigating regarding their trademark. Burberry has brought similar lawsuits against J.C. Penney (which eventually reached a settlement in 2016) and TJX (the parent company of stores including TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls) in 2010. They also won a lawsuit in 2012 against multiple Chinese websites that were using the Burberry name and selling counterfeit items.
Burberry seeks $2 million dollars in damages from Target for each alleged trademark violation, costs and attorney fees, and a permanent injunction prohibiting Target from using the check plaid design. They also seek to have the federal court and order Target to turn over all products, advertisements, promotional material, and packaging that feature the trademarked pattern. Alternatively, the company is also seeking an assessment equal to triple the damages that they have suffered by Target’s alleged counterfeiting.