Tiffany & Co. Does a Victory Dance Over Costco Trademark Ruling



When one person decides to propose to another and offers up a Tiffany engagement ring, the recipient—same sex or not in Kentucky—can now be assured that the ring actually comes from Tiffany & Co. rather than the shelves of Costco, the Associated Press reports.

The latter lost a trademark suit against the high-end jeweler, which claimed Costco was infringing on its trademark by selling engagement rings in cases with the word “Tiffany” inside them. Costco put forth the idea that “Tiffany” is a generic term at this point for a pronged ring. The judge didn’t agree.

Tiffany ringThe lawsuit was filed on Valentine’s Day 2013 after a Costco customer complained to Tiffany’s that she was bummed out that Tiffany was selling its products in America’s largest wholesale chain. Tiffany believed that thousands of “Tiffany” rings were potentially sold, while Costco defended the move in an internal email as describing the setting only. Tiffany, for its part, doesn’t want its brand name to be a victim of “genericide” and so has vigorously defended its name.

The faux-Tiffany news left some Costco customer pretty broken up, apparently. According to the Consumerist, “One couple testified that they were devastated to learn that their engagement ring wasn’t a genuine Tiffany piece, which they only discovered when the ring’s stone fell out.”

“We believe this decision further validates the strength and value of the Tiffany mark and reinforces our continuing efforts to protect the brand,” said Leigh Harlan, Tiffany & Co. SVP, Secretary and General Counsel, in a press release regarding the judge’s ruling.

Now Costco will face a jury trial to assess just how much dough it needs to turn over to Tiffany & Co. for illegally using the name. According to CNBC, the dollar amount awarded can include the revenue Costco has brought in from the sale of the rings over the years as well as punitive damages.

The next court date is set for the day before Halloween but the judge asked the two sides to try and settle up their differences on their own.