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Manufacturer Suing Retailer : K mart Ordered Not to Sell Guess? Men's Jeans as Women's

September 05, 1985|NANCY YOSHIHARA | Times Staff Writer

Guess? Inc., a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of fashion jeans, said Wednesday that a federal judge temporarily restrained K mart and the retailer's Designer Depot subsidiary from selling what they falsely represented as women's Guess? jeans.

U.S. District Judge Matt Byrne issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles against K mart charging the Troy, Mich., company with trademark infringement and false advertising. Guess? alleges that Designer Depot, an off-price unit of K mart, advertised the disputed Guess? garments as jeans for women when, in fact, they are jeans for men whose labels have been altered.

The advertisement appeared in newspapers and back-to-school catalogues distributed by Designer Depot, which operates 59 stores nationwide. California outlets are in Oceanside, Tustin, Santa Ana and La Mirada.

Gary Freedman, attorney for Guess?, said Designer Depot obtained more than 18,000 pairs of the jeans from Fashion House of New York.

"We took no part in the alteration of any Guess? labels," a K mart spokeswoman said. "We have not knowingly sold men's jeans as ladies' jeans. Two weeks ago, we voluntarily took the jeans off the market pending our own investigation." The jeans were available only at Designer Depot stores.

Two years ago, K mart and Jordache Enterprises were involved in a legal dispute stemming from charges that K mart stores were selling counterfeit versions of Jordache jeans. The suits were subsequently settled out of court for undisclosed terms.

Fashion House, which was not named as defendant, could not be reached for comment.

The Guess? jeans for women come with a removable label on the waist containing the brand name printed in black across a red grid design. Below the logo is the word products in black. The label on men's jeans have Guess? printed in across a blue grid above the notation for men .

Guess? maintains that, on the jeans in question, which were advertised by Designer Depot for $29.99, the words for men were removed from this label and from another on the inside seam.

Guess? is the exclusive distributor of its jeans for women, which sell at department and specialty stores for about $50 a pair.

Jeff Hamilton Inc., a Los Angeles-based apparel manufacturer, is the sole supplier of Guess? jeans for men. It is involved in a separate legal dispute with Guess? and denies shipping pants with altered labels or providing additional labels that could be placed on other garments.

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