In a legal brouhaha that could make fashion designers think twice about trumpeting the inspirations for their collections, Tony Duquette, Inc. (which holds various intellectual property rights associated with the designer and artist, who died in 1999) is suing Michael Kors, Inc. for trademark infringement. Duquette alleges that Kors “infringed the Duquette proprietary name and trademark by producing and marketing a Kors resort collection using the name ‘Duquette,’” according to a statement issued earlier this week. The lawsuit states that Kors used the 2007 book Tony Duquette (Abrams); photographs, images, and patterns from the book; and images of Duquette and his associate and co-designer, Hutton Wilkinson, in advertising and promoting the 2009 Michael Kors resort collection, which is now in stores worldwide. “Our corporate policy prevents us from commenting on pending litigation,” a Kors rep told us.
We noticed a cocktail dress from the resort collection that was originally listed on net-a-porter.com as “Duquette print dress” (pictured at right) was yesterday changed to “Malachite print dress.” Nordstrom is still using the former description. A copy of the court filing obtained by UnBeige explicitly mentions the Duquette-associated “distinctive deep green ‘malachite’ prints on the front and back inside pages [of the 2007 book co-authored by Wilkinson].” We have a hunch that this suit will prove to be a lesson on how not to promote and extend Duquette’s artistic legacy, which Wilkinson is currently trying to parlay into profits with a new line of Duquette-branded textiles.