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LAWSUIT SETTLED, LYNNS RESUMES CONCENTRIX LINE

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Cal.-The lawsuit by Homer Laughlin China Co. against Lynns Concepts has been settled, enabling Lynns Concepts to sell its Concentrix line of tableware.

The suit was settled in the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, on July 31, 1998, several months after Chief Judge Sam Pointer denied Homer Laughlin's motion for a preliminary injunction against Lynns Concepts.

Homer Laughlin had alleged the Concentrix brand dinnerware by Lynns Concepts infringed upon the trademark, trade dress and trade style of Homer Laughlin's Fiesta ware dinnerware line.

"It was never our intention to copy their shape and/or color palette. We didn't use their line as a model to develop ours," said John Steward, sales manager for Lynns Concepts.

"Obviously, when such a suit is filed, it's disruptive to companies," Steward continued. He said retailers are reluctant to enter programs with vendors when such lawsuits are filed. Lynns Concepts released a statement about the settled case to clarify that there is no impending litigation and the issue has been resolved, Steward said.

Lynns is ready to ship its Concentrix collection in 10 colors and accessories in four colors -- saffron, marine, white and amethyst. The line includes a 12-inch charger plate, a two-piece vegetable bowl set, sugar/creamer, salt/pepper, gravy boat, 56-ounce coffee pot, 14-inch platter, 85-ounce pitcher and a butter dish.

White bakeware in 17 different sizes and shapes are among the new product introductions in the same collection, while two new colors, citrus lime and citrus orange, are in the spring/summer 1999 assortments.

Joe Wells, executive vice president of Homer Laughlin, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the suit. Although he declined to discuss the details of the lawsuit, Wells said Lynns Concepts did not infringe on Homer Laughlin's trade dress, in either shape or in its line of accessories.

A lawsuit filed by Homer Laughlin against Target Stores in 1997, and Sakura Inc. in January 1998, was settled earlier this year. Under the terms of the agreement, Target and Sakura agreed to remove inventory of and stop manufacturing the Cantinaware dinnerware line, which Homer Laughlin claimed copied its Fiesta ware line in color, shape and design. Target had to remove Cantinaware, its open stock, private label line of solid-colored dinnerware from shelves and from distribution after Homer Laughlin won a preliminary court injunction last summer.

Homer Laughlin has sent a clear message: no direct copies, said Harmon Stein, president of Retroneu/Excel. "That's always a no-no," he said. He does not think the lawsuits will greatly affect the tabletop industry.

However, "They don't own the right to colored dinnerware," Stein continued. To copy Homer Laughlin's direct design shape would be wrong, he added, but pointed out that everyone is working with the same basic shape -- a circle -- and selling it in the popular open-stock format.
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Author:Zisko, Allison
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 21, 1998
Words:474
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