Hublot of America and Chris Aire’s company, Solid 21, have settled their eight-year-old lawsuit over the term red gold—in what appears to be a victory for designer Aire.
“Hublot recognizes that Solid 21 has a registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the use the phrase ‘red gold’ as a trademark in connection with watches and jewelry and that such registration has become incontestable under Section 15 of the Lanham Act,” read a joint statement, which said neither side would offer additional comment.
The settlement comes just as the case was headed to trial in Los Angeles federal court, in a proceeding that promised a number of celebrity cameos. Aire’s witness list included two examples of the designer’s star-studded clientele: rapper Orville “Shaggy” Burrell and retired basketball player Gary Payton.
In 2010, Aire sued 17 watch and jewelry companies over their use of red gold, including such big names as Rolex, Swatch, and Movado. Most of those suits—including Hublot’s—ended up stayed pending the resolution of one of those cases: Solid 21’s suit against Breitling.
The Breitling case saw victories for both sides, and in 2013, Breitling and Solid 21 settled the dispute. Solid 21 then revived its case against Hublot.
Aire’s company argued that it had registered the term red gold for jewelry and watches in 2002, and that Aire deserved credit for popularizing the term.
“You couldn’t give rose gold away before we started branding it,” the Nigerian-born designer complained to Bloomberg.
Hublot countered that the term was generic because it refers to “a high-copper-content gold alloy and for jewelry and watches made of this alloy.”
In June 2015, U.S. district judge Dolly M. Gee agreed, ruling in Hublot’s favor on summary judgment and ordering Solid 21’s trademark canceled. Solid 21 appealed, and in 2017, an appeals court remanded the case back to the lower court, finding that Gee improperly excluded the testimony of one of Solid 21’s witnesses and that “triable issues of fact” remained.
Solid 21’s lawyer did not return a request for comment.
(Image courtesy of Solid 21)