August 4, 2010 / 1:12 PM / 7 years ago

Cartier sues "flash" retailer HauteLook over sales

3 Min Read

<p>Visitors look at watches at the Cartier booth during the opening day of the "Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie" at Palexpo in Geneva, January 19, 2009.Denis Balibouse</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cartier has sued the online "flash sale" retailer HauteLook, accusing it of damaging the luxury goods maker's brand by selling damaged and second-hand Cartier merchandise without permission.

HauteLook is "causing immediate and irreparable harm to the Cartier brand and trademark," Cartier said in its 36-page complaint filed on Tuesday evening in Manhattan federal court.

Cartier claimed that HauteLook has sold used Cartier watches despite maintaining on its website that it "never" sells "secondhand merchandise, ever."

It also said HauteLook has sold Cartier goods that were damaged, were shipped in the wrong packaging, or carried defaced authenticity certificates, and sometimes included a Cartier warranty booklet though the warranty did not apply.

The lawsuit seeks to halt the alleged improper sales, compensatory and triple damages, and other remedies.

Cartier in a statement said the lawsuit is intended to protect clients from misleading online sales practices, as well as "the trusted Cartier name and what it stands for."

In a statement, HauteLook said it is reviewing the complaint. "HauteLook respects intellectual property right holders and is taking this matter very seriously," it added.

Cartier is based in Cham, Switzerland, and has U.S. offices in New York. HauteLook is based in Los Angeles.

Flash sales typically offer designer goods, including overstock and samples, at heavily discounted prices in private sales that typically last just a day or two.

Among other flash-sale sites are Editors' Closet, Enviius, eBay Inc's Fashion Vault, Gilt, Ideeli and RueLaLa.

HauteLook said its goods carry discounts of 50 percent to 75 percent, and have included such brands as BCBG, Joe's Jeans, Laura Mercier and Taschen. It launched a men's site this week.

On June 3, HauteLook said it won $31 million of equity financing led by New York private equity firm Insight Venture Partners.

The case is Cartier International AG et al v. HauteLook Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-05845.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by Dave Zimmerman, Bernard Orr

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