Sterling Accuses JCPenney of Copying Seymour Line

Sterling Jewelers recently sent JCPenney a pair of
letters asking the retailer to stop selling items that it claims are similar to Sterling’s Jane Seymour collection.

“JCPenney Corporation Inc. is copying, reproducing,
and/or distributing jewelry that is substantially similar to the Jane Seymour
Designs without authorization and therefore is in violation of federal
copyright law,” said a Nov. 16 letter signed by attorney John J. Cunniff, whose
firm, Hahn Losers & Parks, represents Sterling in matters of intellectual
property law.

A follow-up letter from Cunniff on Nov. 30 asks that JCPenney
“permanently cease and desist from copying, reproducing, and/or distributing
any and all unauthorized copies of the Jane Seymour Designs and any jewelry
variations thereof.”

The letters were made public in a lawsuit against Sterling
filed by L.A. Gem & Jewelry Design, the jewelry’s manufacturer, in United States District Court, Central
District of California, on Dec. 15.

In its suit, L.A. Gem & Jewelry says its designs do not
infringe on the Seymour line and charges Sterling’s letters have caused it to “suffer substantial injury and
damage.

“Defendants apparently take the
view that they are entitled to ownership of all interconnected hearts, irrespective
of shape, configuration, element placement, element ornamentation, element
orientation, element distance, or any other reasonable measurement of
similarity,” said the L.A. Gem suit. “Prior to the date of Defendants’ purported creation, third parties
developed and first introduced interconnected hearts or an ‘Open Heart,’
wherein a portion of one of the heart’s sides has been removed. For example,
Tiffany & Co.’s ‘Eternity Heart’ pendant is substantially similar to
Defendants’ ‘Open Hearts’ design in terms of orientation.”

In September 2009, Sterling settled
a lawsuit
with GoldStar Jewellery and Ultra Stores for alleged infringement
of the Seymour line.

Sterling and JCPenney did not respond to requests for
comment at press time.