Swatch Group and Stührling Settle ‘Men in Black’ Watch Lawsuit

Hamilton Ventura Watch

by John Sealander  

Stührling Agrees to Pay Swatch Group $1 in Damages in What
Many Feel is Another Frivolous Watch Industry Lawsuit

The iconic Hamilton Ventura has been worn by celebrities including Rod Serling, Elvis Presley, and more recently Will Smith, in the popular movie “Men in Black III.” When a ShopHQ host mentioned the movie on the popular shopping channel during a segment featuring the Stührling Ricochet, a lawsuit ensued.

The Swatch Group, who currently sells a re-issue of the historic 1957 Ventura, alleged that Stührling Original LLC and ShopHQ were trying to sell an intentional copy of the triangular Hamilton Ventura. Not so, said Stührling.

Stührling Chief Operating Officer Barry Kaplan strongly objected to the suit, saying, “There are a lot of triangular watches out in the marketplace.” He made a point that several of these brands were still making triangular watches without any legal action from the Swatch group.

Lawsuits in the Watch Industry

Lawsuits involving a brand’s “trade dress” or general appearance are becoming increasingly commonplace in the watch industry as manufacturers attempt to limit competition. “This lawsuit was meritless from the get-go,” said Akiva Shapiro, the attorney representing both Stührling and ValueVision Media Inc., parent company of ShopHQ. The judge seemed to agree, awarding The Swatch Group just one dollar in damages, which was subsequently donated to charity.

Although the settlement was miniscule, both sides incurred thousands of dollars in legal expenses. The suit was settled without any admission of wrongdoing on the part of the defendants and with prejudice; meaning re-filing of the case is forbidden. As part of the settlement, ValueVision Media and Stührling also agreed to stop selling the Ricochet watch on ShopHQ.

Many think that these types of lawsuits are stifling the watch industry, as large powerful brands attempt to attain exclusive rights to something as vague and ambiguous as the shape of the case. The case between The Swatch Group and Stührling has been settled, but it probably won’t be the last of these types of lawsuits. As watches continue to increase in popularity as fashion accessories, there will always be manufacturers who try to control the playing field.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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