(February 22, 2006, New York, NY) – M. Wile & Company, Inc., a New York corporation that includes upscale women’s apparel division Exclusively Misook, filed a federal suit today for injunctive relief and monetary damages from a woman in North Carolina it says is using its corporate name and has misappropriated its web domain without permission.
The company is represented by Peter D. Raymond, Jeffrey M. Tamarin and John B. Webb of the New York City office of Reed Smith LLP.
The complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York names Debbie A. Bridges, a resident of Charlotte, NC, doing business as “Elegance First,” as defendant.
“M. Wile is the owner of the Exclusively Misook trademark for use in connection with the sale of apparel, and it owns the registration for misook.com, a website used to advertise the clothing it designs, manufactures, markets and distributes under the Exclusively Misook trademark,” said Mr. Tamarin. “The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Bridges has caused and continues to cause M. Wile substantial injury by using deceptively similar domain names where she represents herself as Exclusively Misook or as a business approved as Exclusively Misook to sell women’s clothing. We believe her conduct is so willful and egregious that M. Wile is entitled not only to injunctive relief and monetary damages, but to the recovery of legal fees as well.”
M. Wile and Company’s Exclusively Misook’s division is located at 499 Seventh Avenue, New York City. Principal corporate offices for the remainder of the company are located in Buffalo. Exclusively Misook clothing is widely recognized for its use of distinctive designs and patterns, as well as for its high quality and distinctive balance of casual and formal designs available at Nordstrom, Dillards, Parisian, and Von Maur stores, as well as at select boutiques around the United States, where it is sold under the “Exclusively Misook” label.
From approximately December 2001 through mid-to-late 2006, Bridges was an authorized wholesale purchaser of Exclusively Misook clothing. In December 2006, the corporation terminated its relationship with Bridges and her company, Elegance First.
According to the complaint, Exclusively Misook learned in January 2007 that Bridges was using the web address exclusivelymisook.com deceptively to redirect online consumers to her website, elegancefirst.com, where she was using the EXCLUSIVELY MISOOK trade name and trademark in a manner that mimicked use by Plaintiff’s Exclusively Misook division. In connection with her business Bridges has registered the domain names exclusivelymisook.com and misookclothing.com as well.
The complaint alleges that Bridges’ misuse of the Exclusively Misook trade name and trademark on these websites will cause confusion among consumers. “Any customer visiting these sites is likely to believe that they originate with or are authorized by Exclusively Misook although neither is true,” said Mr. Tamarin.
The complaint also alleges that Bridges had been using “[email protected]” as the primary contact email address on the elegancefirst.com website, and that she purports to sell “gently worn Misook clothing,” although Exclusively Misook never provided used clothing to her and the division has no knowledge or control of the source of quality of the clothing she is selling as if it were provided by Exclusively Misook.
The complaint further details that when Bridges was given formal notice to stop her infringing use of the exclusivelymisook.com domain name and of the Exclusively Misook mark, she replaced the website’s previous contents with a single web page entitled “Share Your Thoughts on Your Misook Clothing.” This page purports to display anonymous comments of unidentified consumers’ experiences with Exclusively Misook apparel.
According to Mr. Tamarin, “We have alleged that these so-called ‘postings’ contain false and defamatory statements that we believe were placed there by Bridges or her agents in order to disparage Exclusively Misook in retaliation for its demand that she cease and desist from trade name and trademark infringement and other acts of unfair competition in violation of the federal Lanham Act and the common law of the State of New York.”
In addition to requesting injunctive relief, punitive and exemplary damages and legal fees, the complaint requests that all domain names including “Misook” and any of its derivatives be immediately turned over to M. Wile’s Exclusively Misook division.