|By Susan Emerson Nutter
NEWELL, W.V. — A speedy resolution has been reached between the Homer Laughlin China Company and two American retailers accused of selling counterfeit Fiesta dinnerware.
In May, Homer Laughlin took legal action to protect its Fiesta trademark when it was discovered the Fayetteville, Ark.-based Hanna’s Candle Co. and The Bazaar, Inc. of River Grove, Ill. were selling, what Homer Laughlin described as cheap, Chinese-made Fiestaware knock-offs.
More than 2,300 dinnerware sets of Carnaval, the name given to the china that closely resembled Fiesta, were sold. In exchange for Homer Laughlin dismissing the lawsuit, Hanna’s Candle Co, and The Bazaar, Inc. have not only agreed to stop selling Carnaval, but the recalled fake dinnerware will be donated to homeless shelters and food banks in the Fayetteville, Ark. area, according to Pittsburgh attorney, Charles B. Gibbons, legal counsel to Homer Laughlin.
“Usually, the remedy in these cases is the destruction of the illicit goods, but, in this case, Homer Laughlin is donating the goods that have been called back, to food kitchens and other agencies that provide assistance to the poor,” said Gibbons in the Morning Journal (Lisbon, Ohio) newspaper. “I think it’s a pretty good insight into the nature of the company.”
According to Gibbons, this case was settled quickly because it resolved the issues Homer Laughlin had because the retailers charged readily cooperated. The quick resolution got the counterfeit pieces off the market quickly; recalled those items still available and put the pieces recalled to good use. According to Gibbons, Carnaval “is not available anywhere now, to the best of our knowledge.”
While pursuing this lawsuit, Homer Laughlin discovered the counterfeit Fiestaware was coming into the United States via a Chinese importing company operating in California. These pieces were then being sold online and in brick-and-mortar stores like Boscov’s in the Pittsburgh area.
With the lawsuit now settled Homer Laughlin will also issue a cease and desist letter to the importing company and will continue trying to determine where in China the fake Fiesta is being produced.
The lawsuit filed in May charged the companies with violating the Lanham Act, the federal trademark law passed by Congress in 1946, and accused the companies of exploiting the popularity of Fiesta by selling inferior imitations that deceived and confused the public.
Though the quality of Carnaval was obviously not up to par with actual Fiesta, the imposters had the same features and bright colors as Fiesta and were sold in the same style packaging. This was not a case of marketing a product as being as good as Fiesta dinnerware, it was clear that the intent of the manufacturer was to produce and market this counterfeit china as being Fiestaware.