Genender, Skagen File Counter Lawsuits



Two U.S. watch companies have filed counter legal actions against each other. At issue is the Hamlin watch line of Genender International. Skagen Designs claims it infringes on its patented watch designs. A charge that Genender denies.
Genender International, of Wheeling, Ill., in Fall 2007 filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit against Skagen Designs, of Reno, Nev., in federal court in Chicago. It announced it on June 12, after Skagen announced in late May it had filed its lawsuit, filed after Genender’s, in Reno.
Genender’s suit alleged Skagen’s design patent was invalid, because of “long existing prior art.” The watch designs in question aren’t protected “trade dress” under federal law, because, it claimed, they’re “not distinctive or unique” but have “long been used” by watch manufacturers. Genender seeks a court order that its Hamlin watches don’t infringe any valid rights Skagen may have in its watch designs.
Skagen Designs said it filed its lawsuit against Genender for trade dress infringement. It alleges Genender’s Hamlin watches illegally infringe on Skagen’s rights of trade dress under federal patent and trademark law.
“Although we regret the need for litigation, it’s important that we take all necessary steps to protect our brand,” said Charlotte Jorst, co-owner of Skagen Designs with her husband Henrik Jorst.
The two suits have since been merged into a single case that will be heard in the Chicago federal court.