Portland botique “Gilt” sues “Gilt Groupe, Inc.”

Miller Nash LLP,
Oregon and Washington Law Firm

Miller Nash LLP has filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against online retailer Gilt Groupe, Inc., a $500 million company based in New York. Miller Nash filed the suit on behalf of northwest Portland boutique Gilt and its founder, Paula Bixel. Gilt, which sells local, sustainable and unique vintage and antique jewelry, alleges that Gilt Groupe, Inc. (which also goes by “Gilt”), has tarnished and diluted the brand that Bixel has spent 20 years building.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Portland, also alleges unfair competition and unjust enrichment, and seeks to cancel many of Gilt Groupe’s federal trademark registrations.

“Bixel’s boutique has been a fixture on the Northwest 23rd shopping scene for decades. When people walk by her storefront and mistake her unique store for a corporate giant, or remark on all the spam they receive from ‘Gilt,’ it is heartbreaking for her,” said Elizabeth Milesnick, attorney for Gilt. “She just wants it to stop.”

Bixel sees confusion between the two retailers when she hands out business cards around town and at industry trade shows. Potential customers come into her store to return items they bought on Gilt Groupe’s website. Earlier this year, in fact, even the Oregonian called Bixel’s boutique, asking about her appointment to the Nike board of directors, when the appointment was actually of Gilt Groupe’s CEO. The Oregonian later ran the story with this explanation: “Gilt, by the way, is not in any way related to Portland’s Gilt.”

“We cannot estimate Gilt Groupe’s exposure for money damages without the information we will gain through the discovery process,” said Milesnick. “By one measure of damages, however, Gilt Groupe could be liable for a percentage of past infringing sales.”

Bloomberg News reported recently that Gilt Groupe, Inc., generated $550 million in revenue in 2012, and that the company may be on the brink of an IPO.

“Perhaps more important than money is the possible remedy of an injunction, which would prevent Gilt Groupe from making further use of the GILT trademark, and go a long way toward eliminating the confusion that threatens to destroy Bixel’s business,” said Milesnick.

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