Copyright of Gucci Square "G" Watch Contested

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Posted by Kathy Pinckert on October 29, 1998 at 12:20:06:

For Release Press Contact: Kathy Pinckert
October 29,1998 Dial: 310.836.8355


Copyright of Gucci Square "G" Watch is Contested by
Maker of Jacques Edho "E" Watches in U.S. Court of Appeals
Case is One of First Impression for the Ninth Circuit

Los Angeles, CA – Yidah Watch Company seeks reversal of a preliminary injunction which ordered them to stop selling their line of Jacques Edho "E" watches in the matter of Gucci Timepieces America, Inc. vs. Yidah Watch Company (No. 97-56567; Case No. CV-97-6985-KMW (MANx). The case is one of first impression for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, in that a preliminary injunction was imposed on the basis of a copyright claim for a watch. Gucci America, Inc. is plaintiffs' trademark licensor for watches and is not a party to this action. Yidah Watch Company is represented by Bradford E. Mattes with the Los Angeles law firm of Kleinberg & Lerner, LLP.
A complaint was filed September 22, 1997 for copyright infringement by Severin Montres, Ltd. and Severin Montres, A.G. (Severin Montres), who are the worldwide exclusive licensees of all watches sold under the Gucci brand name and who now do business as Gucci Timepieces America, Inc. On November 17, 1997, the District Court enjoined Yidah Watch Company (Yidah)from selling its line of Jacques Edho "E" watches on the basis that they infringed upon Gucci's copyright on its popular square "G" watch. Both watches feature common block letters as part of their design. Yidah appealed on November 19, 1997; a Motion for Reconsideration, filed on April 20, 1998, was denied on August 6, 1998.
In late 1997, the U.S. Copyright Office made an independent review of Gucci's "G" watch registration (Watch and Bracelet Design, #VA 804-758), and determined on January 7, 1998 that it should not have granted registration because the work did not contain copyrightable authorship and ordered cancellation. Severin Montres appealed. On September 1, 1998, the Register of Copyrights affirmed its decision and ordered destruction of the certificate of registration, finding that the block letter "G" element did not satisfy the requirement of originality and, thus, was not copyrightable.
The District Court's rulings are in contrast with the position taken by the U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Congress that mere variations of typographic ornamentation lettering,


i.e., letters of the alphabet, are not copyrightable. Yidah will argue that the District Court's characterizations were improper and that the preliminary injunction should be removed.
"We are confident that the Court will agree with the U.S. Copyright Office's decision and find that Gucci's 'G' watch is not copyrightable," said Jacob Yidah, president of Yidah Watch Company, "and then reverse the lower court's preliminary injunction order. What is important here is that justice is served and that the cloud over our 'E' watch is removed."
Oral arguments will take place before Senior Judge, The Hon. Robert Boochever, The Hon. Pamela Ann Rymer, and The Hon. Stephen Reinhardt on Thursday, November 5 at 9:00 AM, U.S. Court of Appeals, 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, CA. 91105
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Editors Note:
Jacob Yidah is president of Yidah Watch Company, based in Los Angeles, CA., which has designed and sold watches since 1982 under the trademarks of JE Jacques Edho Paris® and JE®.
Gucci Timepieces America, Inc. , based in Irvine, CA., is represented by William C. Steffin with the Los Angeles law firm of Lyon & Lyon; telephone 213.489.1600.

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