Franck Muller Stops Gray Market Retailers

Franck Muller USA, Inc., the exclusive authorized importer and wholesale distributor of Franck Muller watches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, said that a federal court in Manhattan issued the last in a new wave of judgments barring the gray market trafficking of watches bearing the Franck Muller trademark.

This Dec. 7 ruling affects 11 retailers and owners including: Exclusive Time, Inc., Igor Kataev, Maurice Moradof, Nelly’s Fine Jewelry and Watch, Inc., New York Buyer’s Jewelry, Inc., New York Time of 47th Street, Inc., Nilya Rakhminova, Edward Rubinoff, Walter Somershaf, Yafa Antique Jewelry, Inc., and Yafa Jewelry Inc. They are all retailers that operate in Manhattan’s Diamond District.

The court orders issued by Federal District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein over the past several months, represent the successful resolution of a lawsuit Franck Muller USA brought earlier in the year alleging that the retailers engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition by, amongst other things, importing and distributing gray market Franck Muller watches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, its exclusive distribution territory. Gray market Franck Muller USA watches are imported and distributed outside of the company’s authorized distribution network.

Over the past two years, FMUSA has obtained court orders and agreements barring 28 corporate and individual defendants from trafficking FMUSA watches in the gray market.

“FMUSA is just getting started, and it is absolutely committed to shutting down the gray market wherever it exists in FMUSA’s territories, whether in conventional stores or on the internet,” said Franck Muller USA’s lead attorney Michael C. Miller of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. “FMUSA’s efforts to date have focused on New York’s Diamond District, but going forward, its geographical scope will expand to all major retail centers and on the internet.”

The law firm added in a statement that in addition to cleaning up the gray market, over the past year. The firm says it has been successful in shutting down four watch lines that have infringed on FMUSA’s trademarks.

The firm has also initiated a sweep of Internet-based counterfeiters, Miller said. This effort has already led to several infringing Web sites being closed down and other sites removing the fake Franck Muller watches.

“Because the Internet is increasingly becoming the center of infringing activity in the luxury goods sector, FMUSA will focus considerable attention in this area over the coming year and will harness all available judicial, administrative and regulatory options to protect its valuable brand.”