Industry / Retail

Cartier Sues Tiffany In Trade Secrets Case


Cartier has sued longtime rival Tiffany & Co. in New York County Supreme Court, alleging that Tiffany hired a former Cartier employee in order to get confidential info about its high jewelry business.

A spokesperson for Tiffany tells JCK: “We deny the baseless allegations and will vigorously defend ourselves.”

Cartier’s complaint, filed Feb. 28, alleged that after Tiffany hired one of its employees, Tiffany execs “repeatedly and knowingly solicited and received confidential Cartier information from her.”

According to the suit, prior to the employee’s departure, she forwarded “sensitive and valuable information that Cartier possesses regarding its High Jewelry business” to her personal email—and some of that info was eventually sent to Tiffany executives, in violation of the former employee’s nondisclosure agreement.

An email from a Tiffany attorney included in the filing claimed that the two Tiffany executives who received the information didn’t know its origin. She also asserted that the confidential information was never forwarded, the emails that contained it have been destroyed (aside from copies kept for legal purposes), and noted that the execs who received the information have been instructed not to use it. The employee was also terminated, the email said.

Cartier’s complaint paints a different picture: It claims that after the employee came to Tiffany,  executives “openly asked” her several times for information about Cartier’s high jewelry business.

In an affidavit included with the legal filing, the employee said she found one Tiffany exec’s purported request for info “dirty or sneaky. I had never experienced or heard of a similar conversation occurring during the years I had worked at Cartier.”

Cartier’s legal filing claimed that Tiffany has “been faced with talent departures” since its acquisition by LVMH, which led a Tiffany executive to “characterize Tiffany’s high jewelry division as being in disarray.” As a result, Tiffany has recruited several Cartier employees, it said.

The suit charged Tiffany with unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other allegations. It asked that Tiffany be enjoined from “using Cartier’s confidential information to undercut Cartier’s prices, steal Cartier’s customers, replicate Cartier’s processes, and otherwise unfairly compete with Cartier.”

The two fabled brands are owned by rival luxury conglomerates. Cartier is owned by Richemont, and Tiffany was purchased last year by LVMH.

(Photo credit: iStock/AngiePhotos & iStock/Orietta Gaspari)

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By: Rob Bates

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