Small Bicycle Distributor Sues Ralph Lauren Subsidiary For Unfair Business Practices

A Black Bike, Inc. sues Club Monaco, Inc., and Koninklijke Gazelle, alleging false advertising, unfair competition, deceptive acts and practices, and trademark and copyright infringement.

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Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) February 4, 2010

A Black Bike, Inc., a small scale bicycle distributor based in Brooklyn, New York, filed a lawsuit in federal court today against the clothing and accessories retailer Club Monaco, Inc., and Koninklijke Gazelle, alleging false advertising, unfair competition, deceptive acts and practices, and trademark and copyright infringement.

The complaint alleges that Club Monaco, a subsidiary of Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, used images of A Black Bike’s bicycles as the centerpiece of its Spring 2009 advertising campaign, without A Black Bike’s authorization, and while publicly representing that the images were instead bicycles manufactured by the Dutch bicycle company Koninklijke Gazelle.

A Black Bike, founded in 2008, is owned by Muna Whitfield, a fashion model and documentary filmmaker who was born in Kenya and grew up in Holland. A Black Bike garnered significant attention towards the end of 2008, culminating in an article in the “What’s Hot” section of the December 2008 issue of Elle Décor magazine, featuring A Black Bike.

In January of 2009, following the upswing of A Black Bike’s publicity, the complaint alleges that Club Monaco purchased a bicycle from A Black Bike and discussed a national advertising campaign that would feature A Black Bike’s bicycles. Although a deal was never reached, in part because Club Monaco insisted that A Black Bike provide free bicycles for the campaign, the complaint alleges that the A Black Bike bicycle was prominently featured in Club Monaco’s Spring 2009 advertising campaign, without A Black Bike’s authorization. Furthermore, instead of crediting A Black Bike, the complaint alleges that Club Monaco confused consumers by falsely representing that the bike in the campaign was a “Gazelle,” manufactured by the Dutch company, Koninklijke Gazelle, a competitor of A Black Bike.

As evidence of this deception, the complaint points to a New York Times article from April 16, 2009, entitled “Riding the It Factor,” where Club Monaco’s advertising campaign featuring the A Black Bike bicycle garnered national attention. In the article, a Club Monaco executive claims that the bike used in the advertising campaign was in fact a “Gazelle” bike he had discovered while vacationing in England. However, the complaint alleges that the A Black Bike logo on the bicycle is clearly visible in Club Monaco’s Spring 2009 campaign, indicating that the executive’s story about the bike’s origins is inaccurate.

Club Monaco, which placed Gazelle bicycles in its stores in conjunction with the Spring 2009 campaign, claims that it sold a significant quantity of Gazelle bicycles within the first week of the campaign.

Following these events, A Black Bike suffered a large drop in sales due to Gazelle’s benefit from the advertising campaign in the U.S. market.

The complaint was filed in federal district court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, by A Black Bike’s attorneys at Shlansky & Co., LLP. The case is docket number 10CV893.

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Contact

  • Benjamin H. Klein, Esq.
    Shlansky & Co., LLP
    (617) 497-7200
    Email

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