By Michelle Graff
Miami--Florida-based jewelry manufacturer Merit Diamond Corp. is suing one of its former customers for allegedly selling a “knock-off and low quality” version of its “Solitaire” single stone pendant from the Sirena Collection.

On Dec. 8, Merit filed a complaint against Sears, Roebuck & Co., Sears Holdings Management Corp., Sears Brands LLC, Kmart Operations LLC and Kmart Corp. for “willful violation” of its copyright and trade dress rights related to the Sirena brand.

Specifically, the jewelry manufacturer alleges that in November 2016, one of its employees spotted a necklace that was “substantially similar” to its Solitaire design in the Sears store in the Aventura Mall in Florida. Merit’s Solitaire pendant, which is pictured below and described in detail in the lawsuit, was copyrighted in 2002.

20161228 Merit necklacesThis picture supplied by Merit Diamond Corp. shows the allegedly offending pendant, which a Merit employee purchased a Sears store, in between two “Solitaire” necklaces made by Merit. The text on the photo was done by Merit.
Later, the same pendant was spotted on both the Sears and Kmart websites, priced as low as $29.99, court papers state.

Merit alleges that Sears--which was once a Merit customer, selling the Sirena Collection and Solitaire design from 2003 until 2011--was aware of its copyright and trade dress but chose to copy the design anyway for financial gain, selling infringing necklaces at stores across the country.

Through a spokesman, Sears declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Merit is suing Sears in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The company is asking the court for damages and to permanently enjoin and restrain Sears from “infringing or contributing to the infringement of (Merit’s) ‘Solitaire’ design,” court papers state.

This is the not the first time the Hollywood, Florida-based jewelry manufacturer has gone to court alleging that another company copied this design from its Sirena collection.

Merit sued Samuels Jewelers Inc. in 2009 over Sirena, as well as SK Diamonds Inc. in 2011 and Sterling Jewelers Inc. in 2012.

A judge awarded Merit $7,500 in damages in the case involving SK Diamonds and permanently enjoined SK Diamonds from making pendants that too closely resemble any Sirena pieces in the future.

The lawsuits filed against Samuels and Sterling Jewelers also were settled, though details of those settlements were not disclosed.

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