Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 23, 2013

2 jewelry sellers face civil charges from Sabika, Inc.

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Two locally based jewelry sellers are facing civil action regarding copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, and violations of federal trademark law in a lawsuit brought by a popular Pennsylvania-based jewelry manufacturer.

Sabika, Inc., filed the civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Bluefield against Erin Brown of Rock and her company Frost Yourself, Inc., as well as against Michelle Oxley and Sheraine Gunnoe and their Princeton-based company Goshen Sparkling Jewelry, LLC.

Sabika has brought a civil lawsuit against all three women and both companies on charges of copyright infringement, trademark infringement under the federal Lanham Act or Trademark Act of 1946, and initial interest confusion and dilution as prohibited by federal law. In the complaint, Sabika alleges several pieces of jewelry as well as promotional materials used by Brown, Oxley and Gunnoe violate jewelry and promotional materials Sabika has trademarked and copyrighted, in particular the Sabika Wine and Dine Choker, the Sabika heart symbol, jewelry catalogs and the Sabika sales model.

Maxim H. Waldbaum, an attorney representing Sabika, Inc., in the complaint, said the company is seeking damages “yet to be discovered” in the suit.

“Sabika has jewelry consultants working every city, even in Bluefield, and it is my guess the consultants were the ones who reported this to the company,” Waldbaum said. “We have had issues like this before. The company has grown a lot recently. The more a company grows and the more successful it is, the more of this type thing you see.”

In the civil action against Brown and her company Frost Yourself, Inc., Sabika alleges Brown’s jewelry copies “Sabika Classics pieces” and has developed “(her) own pieces with the same or similar components as Sabika’s.” The lawsuit alleges Brown then sold these items “at trade shows, fairs and local churches.” The complaint also alleges Brown replicated Sabika catalogs as well as the company’s October breast cancer awareness campaign called “Sabika Pink Party” by creating “a catalog with (Sabika) Collections pieces as well as a PINK line called ‘Bombshell,’ which is a collection with a portion of the proceeds going to breast cancer research in October.”

Sabika said Brown’s design only violated Sabika copyright registration in “willful and knowing disregard of Sabika’s copyright rights” and has caused the company and it’s brand “irreparable harm.” The lawsuit asks that Brown and her company be further prevented from “continued acts of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false advertising, dilution” and destroy “all imitation jewelry” in Brown’s possession or in the possession of “any person selling or distributing the imitation jewelry.” The company has also asked Brown turn over any profits she has made from the jewelry to Sabika, asked the company be awarded damages to their brand, and pay Sabika’s attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses for the suit.

Messages left with Brown by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph regarding the suit were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

In the civil complaint against Oxley, Gunnoe and their company Goshen Sparkling Jewelry, LLC, Sabika said the pair began selling jewelry in early summer 2012 and focused on “open house” sales at churches in West Virginia and Virginia as well as selling items at “home parties.” According to Sabika, the pair “copy Sabika pieces as customer orders and even put a heart on it to make it look like Sabika. Although they claim they do original work, they have several pieces that are imitations of Sabika pieces.”

The web site for Goshen Sparkling Jewelry says “This jewelry is NOT Sabika or is it intended to be represented as such,” but Sabika alleges in the lawsuit this “disclaimer, in effect, announces to the public that (their) products do, in fact, imitate Sabika.” Sabika said the jewelry being sold by Oxley and Gunnoe also in “willful and knowing disregard of Sabika’s copyright rights” and said they have “using in commerce Sabika’s trademark and trade names without the consent of Sabika in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distributing or advertising” of their jewelry.

The civil action also asks for the federal court to order Oxley and Gunnoe to halt the manufacture of and destroy all “imitation jewelry” currently in their possession as well as to award Sabika “profits from the sale of their jewelry intended to imitate and substantially take away from the goodwill of Sabika.” The company is also seeking damages to its copyright, trademark and for the pair to pay their attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses for the suit.

Messages left with Oxley and Gunnoe by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph regarding the suit were not returned immediately Tuesday evening.

Sabika, Inc., is a Pittsburgh, Pa.,-based business in operation since 2001 and was founded by Karin and Konrad Mayr. Sabika has developed multiple jewelry lines, copyrighted at least 35 jewelry products as well as “a unique selling method and its ability to develop relationships with consultants who otherwise would not be working.”

The company presently as more than 600 consultants working in 47 states, many of which are “heavily concentrated” in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

 — Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com´┐Ż