Coty has won a near three-year court battle against Excell Brands, a company that has been selling direct replicas of scents such as Calvin Klein, Chloe and Marc Jacobs, all fragrances sold under the Coty licence.
The fragrance giant originally filed the trademark and false advertising suit against Excell in New York Federal court in 2015, stating that the company was selling fragrances based on its own, that failed to smell or look like the real perfumes it was aiming to copy.
Coty has now been awarded $6.5 million in damages, with Excell ordered to cease trading of the copycat scents, which were sold in retailers such as Kmart, Dollar General, Ross Stores and Amazon.
Summarising his decision, Judge Furman stated that, “Excell’s products copy, with only slight differences, the names, typefaces, packaging, design, coloring, and bottle shapes of Coty’s fragrances.”
He continued, “Imitation may well be the sincerest form of flattery, but if taken too far it can also be costly.”
Launching products such as ‘Serenity’ to emulate Calvin Klein’s Eternity and ‘Possession’ to copy Obsession, it was highlighted that Excell’s products had mislead consumers that the perfumes were of similar quality to Coty’s through the packaging and labelling, however the differences were ‘vast’. Looking at Coty’s process, the judge declared, “development of a fragrance’s packaging can be a multi-year process, as Coty tries to create new designs that will differentiate its fragrances from those of its competitors.” However, when studying the Excell copies, he found the company “had no first-hand knowledge of the chemical composition or ingredients of its products; nor did it have any meaningful quality assurance program.”
While Coty was awarded damages, it failed to receive attorney’s fees and an enhanced monetary award for counterfeit products.