On August 13, 2013, Audemars Piguet, maker of the elegant Royal Oak watch, filed suit against Tommy Hilfiger and Movado Group, citing trademark infringement over the Eton watch, according to The U.S. Federal District Court.
The Eton, which bears the Hilfiger name across the face, bears a striking resemblance to the Royal Oak timepiece — including the hexagonal bezel and screws that the company claims have been a patented feature of Audemars watches for 40 years — a fact that Audemars Piguet believes to be intentional.
“Blatant copying and confusing use” was the phrase used in papers filed by Audemars, who claims to have repeatedly requested that Movado cease making and selling the watches. Audemars Piguet fears that consumers will be fooled into believing the Hilfiger watch is an actual Audemars Royal Oak, even though the price difference factors out to be thousands of dollars. The Hilfiger watch retails for around $150 — a stark contrast to Audemars’ $15,000.
To date, Movado and Hilfiger have remained silent on the accusations.
Recent similar cases in the news recently have proved difficult to settle, and it’s unclear at the moment whether the Hilfiger design closely enough resembles Audemars Piguet’s design to convince a judge that infringement has, in fact, occurred.
Named for it’s founding fathers, Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, this family-owned business has been mastering the art of precision watch-making since 1875. Still based in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, watches bearing the Audemars Piguet signature are crafted by teams of skilled designers, jewelers, gem-setters and engravers. Materials used include white, yellow and rose gold, stainless steel and platinum. Several styles boast diamonds embedded in the face.
Some of these exquisite timepieces, such as the Jules Audemars Grand Complications, sell for upwards of one million dollars..
But Audemars Piguet also believes in giving back to the communities that support it. A staunch advocate of conservation, the Audemars Piguet Foundation was established in 1992 by Jasmine Audemars to help reforest and heal areas devastated by fires, storms and de-forestation. To date, the Foundation has contributed to 73 projects, spanning 34 different countries. In fact, a percentage of every Audemars watch sold goes to fund the Foundation in its conservation efforts.
Ironically, Hilfiger himself is the son of a watchmaker. Born in New York in 1951, Hilfiger didn’t find fame as a fashion designer until 1984. Humanitarian and philanthropist, he established the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation in 1995 — an organization committed to helping empower the youth of America. The Foundation has since gone global and, according to it’s mission statement, works tirelessly to improve health and education for the world’s young people.
- In 2009, The Tommy Hilfiger Foundation donated two million dollars to Millennium Promise, an organization committed to wiping out extreme poverty.
- In 2011, he chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Dedication Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Hilfiger’s foundation was a staunch supporter for the ten years leading up to the event.
- The Hilfiger Foundation also supports the Fresh Air Fund, Save the Children, War Child and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
In 2010, Hilfiger sold his billion-dollar company to fashion conglomerate Phillips-Van Heusen.