Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gucci can go forward with a lawsuit accusing apparel retailer Guess Inc of selling knockoff products without its permission, a U.S. judge ruled.
The Italian luxury goods company had accused Guess in May 2009 of trying to "Gucci-ize" its product line by selling wallets, belts, shoes and other items whose designs copied or mimicked the Italian company's designs.
Founded in 1921 and now owned by Paris-based PPR SA, Gucci is one of many luxury goods companies to sue alleged copycats.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan on Tuesday said Gucci may pursue claims over Guess' alleged infringement of four designs: green-red-green stripes, a script logo, a stylized "Square G," and a group of four interlocking "G"s known as a "Quattro G."
She said one could reasonably infer that Guess acted in bad faith by developing designs that might cause confusion, and that Gucci had produced evidence that the Quattro G design did generate "actual confusion" among shoppers.
The judge dismissed two Gucci claims alleging trademark dilution over the Square G and Quattro G designs, citing a lack of evidence.
Robert Welsh, a lawyer for Guess, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Guess had argued that it did not engage in "willful deceit," and that its product sales did not confuse shoppers or tarnish Gucci's reputation.
Louis Ederer, a lawyer for Gucci, declined to comment.
According to the judge's opinion, Gucci said it was entitled to $26 million of damages from Guess and other defendants, a sum representing a "reasonable royalty" as calculated by its damages expert.
The expert also estimated that profits from the alleged infringements by the defendants totaled more than $98 million.
In afternoon trading, Guess shares were up 11 cents at $34.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The case is Gucci America Inc v. Guess? Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-04373.
For Gucci America: Louis Ederer of Arnold & Porter
For Guess?, Inc: Robert Welsh of O'Melveny & Myers
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)
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