24th September, 2010
Nigerian-born Hollywood Jeweller, Chris Aire, has dragged a consortium of world leadingÂ brands to court for infringing on his trademark.
Aire, through his parent company, Solid 21 Inc., a Nevada incorporated company of whichÂ Chris Aire serves as President, on Wednesday 22 September 2010Â slapped 17 of the worldâ€™sÂ major brands with a lawsuit at the US Federal Court in Los Angeles, California.
George E. Akwo and Ophir J. Bitton, attorneys for the plaintiff Chris Aire, filed theÂ lawsuit.
They were suing on behalf of Aire for trademark infringement, unfair competition, falseÂ description, and injunctive and declaratory relief.
The Defendants in this lawsuit which has been desribed as a landmark for any AfricanÂ designer are watches and jewellery giants ROLEX; LVMH on behalf of HUBLOT and LOUISÂ VUITTON; BREITLING; RICHEMONT INTERNATIONAL SA on behalf of BAUME & MERCIER,Â INTERNATIONAL WATCH COMPANY, MONTBLANC; ULYSSE NARDIN, INC.; MONTRES CORUM SARL; THEÂ SWATCH GROUP on behalf of BLANCKPAIN, OMEGA SA; FRANCK MULLER; CHOPARD; MAKUR DESIGN,Â INC.; GRAHAM-LONDON; KOBOLD WATCH COMPANY LLC, PIERE KUNZ USA INC; EBEL; BULGARI onÂ behalf of GERALD GENTA and DOES 1-200.
According to reports, the key facts that created the infringement suit stated that ChrisÂ Aire’s SOLID 21 is the owner of the registered and incontestable trademark RED GOLD for,Â inter alia, fine jewellery and watches made from a special alloying of gold with aÂ distinct colour made into fine jewellery in connection with the manufacture, marketingÂ and advertising of watches, necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, cuff links, ornamentalÂ hair pins, belt buckles of precious metal, tie clips and pegs and earrings known as â€œREDÂ GOLD.â€
It is said that the trademark is capsulated in the following trademark information and inÂ the trademark certificate set forth: “Solid 21 Incorporated and its President andÂ renowned jeweler, Chris Aire currently holds the U.S. Trademark Registration No.Â 2,793,987; Mark: RED GOLD; Registered: December 16, 2003; and has the official trademarkÂ certificate.â€
Chris Aire claimed to be the first person to use the mark RED GOLD and registered it.Â Without his consent, 17 other brands are now using the same or similar RED GOLD markÂ “which is causing or is likely to cause customer confusion with the Chris Aire RED GOLDÂ mark.”
Thus AireÂ wants the court to stop further infringement of his trademark known asÂ injunctive relief. He also wants equitable relief (what the court deems fair),Â compensation and monetary damages, costs and disbursements.
Meanwhile, Aire has been receiving commendation and support from his compatriots who sawÂ his lawsuit as a bold step ever by some Africans who always shy away from confronting theÂ big brands over their rights.
Uduak Oduok, US-based Nigeria’s fashion and entertainment lawyer hails Aire case.
“Majority of suits filed do not necessarily go to trial but are negotiated and resolvedÂ through settlements. Trademark infringement suits are no exception. Chris Aire filing aÂ suit puts others on notice not to infringe on the brandâ€™s RED GOLD trademark. Further,Â with the presumption that the Hollywood brand has the money to fight the big dogs, thenÂ there is a higher likelihood given the seeming favourable case to Aire that the case willÂ resolve i.e. settle,” she explained.
A graduate of Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Aire has been designing innovative,Â urban-style diamond jewellery for more than 21 years. With a client list that includesÂ Cedric the Entertainer, Adrien Brody, Jamie Foxx, Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, HalleÂ Berry, Clint Eastwood and Will Smith, and others, this world-renowned Los Angeles-basedÂ designer and founder of Chris Aire Fine Jewellery & Timepieces was the first jewelleryÂ designer to showcase diamonds as fashion at New York Fashion Week.
His cutting edge designs are known for their creativity and craftsmanship, earning theÂ Nigerian-born jewellery designer such monikers as â€œThe King of Blingâ€, â€œEmperor of Iceâ€Â and â€œThe Ice Manâ€.