It’s definitely not the best Valentine’s Day press. Yesterday, Tiffany & Co. sued Costco to stop selling what it deems to be counterfeit rings being erroneously represented as Tiffany products. Tiffany alledges that Costco has sold hundreds or thousands of rings using their name, and is seeking damages for infringement as well as a forfeiting of all profits from the rings. The total bill could run to the billions.
According to the New York Times, Costco stopped marketing the rings last year after being approached by the jeweler, though they are still available without the luxury brand’s moniker.
Luxury retailers are notoriously litigious when it comes to protecting the exclusivity of their brands. In the past, Tiffany has tangoed with eBay to ensure that knockoffs weren’t being sold on the auction site.
Costco has grappled with issues of authenticity in the past as well, most recently when it was found guilty of trademark infringement in 2011. The company also removed a Picasso drawing from its website after its authenticity was questioned. But there is no shortage of high-end goods available on Costco’s site, which features luxury watches, jewelry and appliances with price tags running into the thousands of dollars.