Professional Jeweler Archive: Protecting Design

February 2004


Protecting Design

[This letter refers to an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune Nov. 16. It detailed industry efforts to protect copyrights, trademarks and patents in the jewelry industry.]

I am sure everyone is in agreement that manufacturers and designers pay a substantial amount of money to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect their trademarks and copyrights.

We are a small company owning a trademark and, periodically, someone infringes upon it. We respond with a cease-and-desist letter initiated by our attorney. This letter alone is very costly and only sporadically effective. Often the offending party ignores the letter, instigating our decision to proceed with the court process. As you know, court costs to protect these trademarks are extremely costly, sometimes well into six figures and with no guarantee of a successful result. If a hugely successful company like David Yurman is awarded $1 million for defense of an infringement and then the award is reduced to $275,000, yet his costs for the lawsuit run higher than the infringement award, then how is it possible for a small company like ours to fit in, because the costs are the same?

David Yurman, an industry leader, spends exorbitant amounts of money each year to continue to create magnificent, innovative jewelry that continues to be knocked off by unethical companies that sell direct through syndicated catalogs. He has no way to protect these styles without spending more money on legal assistance that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should provide to us included in the money we spend to register a design or custom logo or trademark.

Unfortunately, most of the companies in the jewelry industry today are small and cannot afford to pursue these infringements, leaving nowhere to turn for assistance. I’ve had some great help from the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, but this is not its regular line of work – though perhaps it could be.

We desperately need a strong leader like Mike Roman [former chairman of Jewelers of America], who had the ability, the know-how and the proper connections in Washington, DC, along with the desire to help all of us who are in the same predicament, to get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to assume more responsibility than just collecting license and registration fees.

Will the next Mike Roman please come forward?

Richard Hahn, President
Juergens & Andersen Co.
Chicago, IL

The author’s company owns the trademark to Add-A-Pearl™ necklaces and has been in the jewelry business for 150 years.

Send letters to Peggy Jo Donahue, Editor in Chief, Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; fax (215) 545-9629, or e-mail Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Any letters submitted to the editor will be considered for publication unless you indicate they are private and should not be published.

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