20
Dec/08

The Return of Societe Comptoir De L'Industrie v Alexander's Dep't Store?


The interest of the consumer here in competitive prices of garments using Dior designs without deception as to origin, is at least as great as the interest of plaintiffs in monopolizing the name.

If we are in fact entering the era of New Frugality, will it affect our trademark jurisprudence? In Societe Comptoir, a 1962 Second Circuit case, Alexander’s Department store sold what today would be refered to as Dior Knock-offs. From the case:

The merchandise was so described in newspaper advertisements, on hang tags attached to the garments reading, ‘Original by Christian Dior– Alexander’s Exclusive– Paris– Adaptation'”

The Court held for Alexander’s, holding that there was no confusion, as it was clearly labeled that this were copies of Dior, and not Dior originals.
I’m not sure I could prove it definitively, but I would venture that over the past ten years, the majority of circuit courts would not hold for defendant on those facts.
But I wonder if an extended economic downturn will make courts more receptive to the viewpoint in the lead-off sentence?

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