A judge has ruled Costco Wholesale is guilty of trademark infringement for selling fake Tiffany & Co diamond engagement rings to customers. Costco had originally claimed Tiffany & Co did not have a trademark for the word “Tiffany”. A federal judge has decided Costco purposefully included the name “Tiffany” on its rings to confuse customers. Tiffany & Co suspects Costco sold thousands of the fake rings. According to an ABC News story several years ago, Costco sold the engagement rings at prices ranging from $11,000 to $40,000.
The controversy began when a Costco shopper alerted Tiffany & Co to the counterfeit rings. Tiffany & Co then carried out its own investigation, even getting a Costco sales representative to call the products “Tiffany rings”. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Tiffany & Co launched its lawsuit.
Why Trademarks are Important for Companies Selling High-End Goods
Tiffany & Co is known for its high-end jewelry, china and silver. Several months ago, we wrote a blog about how counterfeit Rolex watches are costing the company many millions in revenue. The revenue loss was so severe because Rolex can sell its products for tens of thousands of dollars. If Tiffany & Co has a reputation for selling among the best jewelry in the world, Costco is essentially stealing that reputation for its own profit.
Trademarks are very important for any company, but especially so for businesses that engage in selling high-end products. Engagement rings can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Due to the high price of the products sold by Tiffany & Co, it could have lost millions in profits.