A New York City federal judge in July ordered Elini to stop selling three watch lines that allegedly copied Franck Muller luxury watches. The order by Judge George Daniels incorporated a written agreement between the companies to “settle the controversy between them.” Under that settlement, neither admitted liability, and there wasn’t any award of damages or costs.
Franck Muller USA, based in New York City, originally sued Elini Designs Corp., Miami, and Elini BVBA, Antwerp, Belgium, for trademark infringement, copyright infringement, and unfair competition. It alleged Elini’s New Yorker, Jumbo, and Dolce watch lines copied designs and features of Franck Muller’s Conquistador Chronograph and Cintrée Curvex watch lines.
The judge’s order, noting FMUSA’s ownership of trademarks and copyrights of the cited watches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, “permanently restrained and enjoined” Elini from “manufacturing, distributing, advertising, promoting, offering to sell, or selling” the three Elini lines in those regions.
Franck Muller USA in a July 24 statement praised the “successful and amicable resolution” of the lawsuit. “FMUSA is committed to protecting the integrity of the Franck Muller trademark and its unique design features,” said Michael C. Miller, FMUSA’s lead attorney. Since 2006, it has obtained court orders and agreements barring 22 corporate and individual defendants from “engaging in various infringing activities,” he noted.
“We’re happy to have been able to reach an amicable resolution with Franck Muller USA Inc.,” said Elini’s attorney, Robert Zarco. “Elini has done nothing wrong, and our settlement with Franck Muller USA Inc. makes that obvious. Elini was happy to put this legal battle behind it and return to the modern and cutting-edge designs that have made the brand so popular.”
In a July 27 statement, citing “an exercise of business judgment,” Elini said it “decided not to continue to manufacture a limited number of its lines.” It will “continue to sell all its watch lines through the end of the year, at which time sales of certain limited-edition watches will cease.”
“We felt some of our watch lines represented a significant departure from what made the Elini brand so strong in the first place,” said Elini Designs president Nisso Barokas. “So, we have decided to move in a different direction. We are getting back to who we are.” Elini immediately announced three new “cutting-edge and unique [watch] designs” called The Doves, Genesis, and Square World.