Tiffany & Co. accuses Costco of selling counterfeit engagement rings
By Jay Keller
Costco has not released an official statement about the lawsuit and declined to comment on the situation at this time.
The high-end jeweler is seeking restitution for trademark infringement, dilution, counterfeiting, unfair competition, injury to business reputation, false and deceptive business practices and false advertising.
“We now know that there are at least hundreds if not thousands of Costco members who think they bought a Tiffany engagement ring at Costco, which they didn’t,” said Tiffany lead counsel Jeffrey Mitchell in a statement.
Mitchell went on to say that Costco knew ignored trademark law to knowingly sell rings that had nothing to do with Tiffany and vowed to “right a terrible wrong.”
This is not the kind of behavior people expect from a company like Costco, and this case will shed a much needed light on this outrageous behavior,”
“The Tiffany brand has been damaged, Costco members have been damaged, and Costco has profited from the sale of engagement rings by misrepresenting what they were,” Mitchell added.
The lawsuit claims that a customer alerted Tiffany to the sale of what was promoted on in-store signs as “Tiffany” diamond engagement rings at a Costco store in Huntington Beach, Calif., in Nov. 2012.
Tiffany says an internal investigation found that Costco had been selling different styles of rings advertised on in-store signage as “Tiffany” for many years without permission.
The rings, said the company in a statement, were not manufactured by, approved by, licensed by, or otherwise in any way properly associated with Tiffany.
The suit alleges that Costco led members to believe they were purchasing authentic Tiffany products at significant discounts.
Tiffany maintains that it regularly takes actions against counterfeiters and infringers of its intellectual property program that’s been in place for more than 175 years.
“Everyone knows that buying something on a street corner or over the internet from an unknown source is risky, Mitchell went on to say in a statement to the press. “Until now, no one would have thought it could be risky to buy brand name merchandise from Costco as well.”
The company says customers should know that Tiffany fine jewelry is sold only in its retail stores and is not distributed or sold at discount through other wholesale or retail establishments including Costco.
Additionally, diamond engagement rings sold by Tiffany are backed by a lifetime guarantee and no such offer was extended to Costco members.