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Federal judge: Costco must pay more than $19 million for selling fake 'Tiffany' rings

Kate Taylor

(Costco owes Tiffany A federal judge ruled on Monday that Costco owed the jewelry company Tiffany & Co. $19.4 million after the budget retailer sold diamond engagement rings using the Tiffany name.

US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled that the $8.25 million in damages a jury in October ordered Costco to pay was an insufficient punishment and that Tiffany deserved an additional $11.1 million plus interest from the retailer, bringing the total to $19.4 million.

Costco made an estimated $3.7 million in profit selling engagement rings marketed as "Tiffany" rings. While Costco had argued that the word was understood as a generic reference to a ring's setting, not the brand itself, a court determined in 2015 that selling items described simply as "Tiffany" infringed on Tiffany's trademark.

Swain also barred Costco from marketing or labeling rings or other items as "Tiffany" products unless they also include a modifier such as "set," "style," or "setting."

Costco said it planned to appeal the decision and that it was the product of "multiple errors in pretrial, trial, and post-trial rulings."

"Tiffany & Co. did not claim in the lawsuit that it lost a single sale to Costco as a result of any sign," the company said in a statement. "From a purchaser list of approximately 2,500, Tiffany identified fewer than 10 who said that they had misunderstood Costco's signage. This was not a case about counterfeiting in the common understanding of that word — Costco was not selling imitation Tiffany & Co. rings."

Costco has sold the rings since before 2007. Tiffany filed the lawsuit against Costco on Valentine's Day 2013.

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