Franck Muller Wins More Anti-Grey Market Court Rulings

Franck Muller USA, exclusive importer and distributor of the Swiss luxury watch in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, has won more federal court rulings permanently barring companies from “importing, selling or otherwise distributing” watches with the Franck Muller trademark.

In September, the company also won a federal court ruling barring several other companies from “importing, selling or otherwise distributing” any watch with the Franck Muller trademark in FMUSA’s trading areas.

The new court bans were issued by Judge Richard Berman in late October and early November.

An order, issued in October, bars Avianne Watches, a New York City based watch maker and dealer, from importing, distributing, and selling its Avianne’s Victorian Collection, which closely resembled Franck Muller watches, in the United States, Canada and Caribbean. Avianne complied and told FMUSA it has destroyed its inventory of the watches. A second order bars Avianne from trading in gray market Franck Muller watches (i.e., watches sold without authorization of the trademark owner by unauthorized suppliers or dealers).

The second set of rulings, issued in early November, names other New York City watch dealers and their owners, identified in the court documents as International Watch Exchange, Inc., Motion in Time, and VIS Jewelers. All are barred by the court from “importing, selling or otherwise distributing” any watch with the Franck Muller trademark in those areas.

The watch company had alleged they engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition by importing and distributing Franck Muller watches without authorization.

“FMUSA is extremely pleased with this outcome which represent the latest success in its campaign to shut down gray market traffickers of Franck Muller watches,” said Michael C. Miller, FMUSA’s attorney. “In 2006, FMUSA has obtained court orders and agreements barring fifteen corporate and individual defendants from importing, buying, or selling any Franck Muller watches.”

While he said FMUSA targets gray market traffickers wherever they are located, most of the most-recent defendants are located in Manhattan’s Diamond District. “FMUSA will continue to focus on New York’s Diamond District, and take whatever lawful measures are available to shut down the operations of all gray market traffickers who put these watches into circulation,” said Miller.

The company, he noted, is “committed to protecting the integrity of the Franck Muller trademark and its unique design features in the United States, Canada and Caribbean. It won’t stand by while watch makers copy the exceptional designs created by Franck Muller and attempt to dilute the value of its brand.”