By Michelle Graff
San Diego--A federal appeals court in California has reversed the preliminary injunction leveled against A’lor last spring that barred it from selling certain pieces of cable jewelry, the latest twist in the ongoing legal battle between the brand and Charriol.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the lower court erred in finding that the 2010 “Exclusive Jewelry License Agreement” inked between A’lor International Ltd. and Philippe Charriol International Ltd. covered the “so-called ‘cable design.’”

The appeals court stated that the agreement covers only three word marks: Celtic, Charriol and Colvmbvs and “does not prohibit A’lor from selling cable jewelry under its own brand after termination” of their agreement, court papers state.

While the ruling, which overturns a judgement issued by the U.S. District Court in April 2014, is a victory for A’lor, it is not the end of the legal battle between the two companies, which had worked side-by-side for years, with A’lor acting as the licensee for Charriol jewelry in the United States.

Ludovic Lesur, managing director of Philippe Charriol International, said the company was “disappointed” with the ruling and has asked the court to rehear the parties’ appeal.

He also said that A’lor “did not honor the injunction while it was in place, and, as a result, (Philippe Charriol) was further damaged by A’lor’s commercial misconduct.”

However, Tal Zemer, a principal at A’lor, said they “interpreted the court order as best they could,” and don’t believe they were in violation of the injunction.

He said they discontinued some products while redesigning a significant portion of their inventory, and added that any pieces covered by the injunction were older and have “aged out of the inventory.”

Zemer said they are “very happy” with the appeals court’s ruling.

“This reversal essentially says that everything we’ve said since the beginning (of the lawsuits) is correct,” he said; namely, that the cable design is not part of their contract with Philippe Charriol and always has been owned by A’lor.

Lesur said Philippe Charriol intends to move forward with its remaining claims in district court.

Still up in the air are issues of the termination of the contract--Charriol has said that Alor ended their distribution agreement without proper justification--breach of contract and trademark infringement. A trial is set for January 2016. 

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The legal battle between these two one-time partners began brewing in May 2013, when Geneva-based Philippe Charriol filed suit against San Diego-based A’lor in federal court in California.

The extensive complaint accused A’lor of selling Charriol “knock-off jewelry” and claimed that A’lor traded off the strength of the Charriol name to design, develop and implement a competing line of jewelry under its own name in the U.S. and abroad.

That July, A’lor fired back with a counterclaim, accusing Charriol of breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.

A’lor also alleged that Charriol was the one selling designs that infringed upon A’lor’s trade dress and copyrights. In court documents, A’lor stated that it first publicly displayed its nautical cable motif jewelry in the early 1980s, “prior to any other person or entity doing so.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify A’lor and Charriol’s past relationship. A’lor was the licensee for Charriol jewelry in the United States, not the distributor. 

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