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Judge Drops Buccellati Holding Italia Lawsuit in New York

Citing lack of jurisdiction, Judge Paul G. Gardephe dismissed the case against Laura Buccellati, the grandniece of Mario Buccellati, the company's founder.

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FAMILY FEUD: A New York federal court judge dropped upscale jeweler and watchmaker Buccellati Holding Italia SpA’s lawsuit against Laura Buccellati, the grandniece of its founder Mario Buccellati. In the lawsuit, which was filed in October 2011, the company claimed Buccellati, a handbag designer, committed trademark infringement when she used her own trademarked name to falsely imply her association with her family’s business. The designer, who sold her entire interest in her family’s business in 1989, operates an accessories company in Miami. Her business partner, Lilian Azel, was also named in the suit.

Citing lack of jurisdiction, Judge Paul G. Gardephe dismissed the case, as Buccellati’s “only sale of any merchandise to a New York customer” was in connection to the case. The jeweler hired an investigator to buy the allegedly infringing goods before filing the lawsuit. This is a common practice in trademark infringement cases.

The judge justified his dismissal of the case, explaining: “Defendants have offered uncontradicted evidence that their business is conducted through private parties, by word of mouth, and through ‘trunk shows’ at retailers or in private homes none of which has taken place in New York.”

RELATED STORY: Clessidra Acquires Majority Stake in Buccellati Group >>

In order to substantiate filing the lawsuit in New York, Buccellati cited that the designer has a Web site capable of serving a New York customer. But the judge said there is “nothing about” the site that “demonstrates an attempt to serve the New York market.”

The Italian jeweler cited Buccellati’s hiring of Los Angeles-based public relations firm Tara Solomon to help facilitate desk-side editor appointments in New York. The court shrugged off that argument, adding that it does not “demonstrate” that the meetings were “directed at the New York market.”

Buccellati could appeal the judge’s decision, or move to have the case tried in the Southern District of Florida.

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