Tory Burch claims her ex-husband, Christopher Burch brazenly stole her trade secrets to establish his own brand C. Wonder.
After their official divorce, Tory and Chris are still embroiled in a bitter battle over each other’s lucrative brands.
The fashion designer filed an explosive countersuit on Tuesday, November 6th, stating that Chris Burch’s C. Wonder is a “a knockoff brand selling lower-quality products at lower prices.”
It adds that she was “aghast” when he opened his first store in SoHo last year, just blocks away from one of her outlets.
According to NY Mag, Tory had heard so much about C. Wonder’s likeness to her line that she and her company’s president, Brigitte Kleine, decided to make the trip to Soho themselves. Even after being forewarned, they were shocked. Everything seemed familiar, from the buttons on the blouses to the C logo Chris had emblazoned on all of the items, which they could tell had been created by the same company that designed their double T.
C. Wonder president Amy Shecter, a former Tory Burch executive, notes that the quantity of products the stores carry differentiates them from Tory Burch. “I mean, we have heart-shaped waffle-makers in our store,” she says. “We have pigs that are docking stations.” She starts to laugh. “They don’t have heart-shaped waffle-makers! They don’t have pig docking stations!”
“The idea was to mix outdoor English country and a little bit of American sportswear,” Tory Burch said of the brand.
C. Wonder launched earlier this year. According to the brand’s website, it was “created to deliver brightness to every corner of life.”
Tory‘s suit filed in Delaware said Chris “copied the Tory Burch brand image, from the lacquered front doors, to store fixtures, to furnishings . . . the store was stocked with mass-market versions of the top selling Tory Burch items.”
A source previously described that the Socialite wanted to avoid the courts and she was trying to work it out with her former partner to “avoid more brand confusion.”
The source added, “She is asking him to change his concept, which includes C. Wonder’s product, the design and the boutique. It remains Tory’s intent not to litigate – she is hopeful he’ll agree to change his concept. Litigation would be the very last resort.”
However, it appears that the exes have failed to come to an agreement, and Tory‘s move comes weeks after J. Christopher Burch decided to sue her first last month for breach of contract and interference
The founder and CEO of Burch Creative Capital, a venture investment and brand development firm, alleges that his ex-wife and her company have attempted to hinder the running of his own business, C. Wonder, and interfered with his attempts to sell his 28 percent stake in Tory Burch, worth $600 million.
The multi-millionaire businessman also insisted that the heiress would be nothing without him and he was the brains behind the business
He noted his extensive contributions to Tory Burch from his experience in start-ups and as a venture capitalist to raise $10 million from outside investors to start the company in addition to his initial investment of $2 million.
However, a number of industry insiders, including Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg are defending Tory.
Tory spoke out in her suit, stating “Chris wasted the company’s time, money and energy pursing potential factories that almost never panned out.”
She claimed he even presented a cheaper copy of her famous Reva ballet slipper, but “Chris did not even realize the copy was made of plastic, not leather.”
However Chris’s lawyer, Andrew J. Rossman, said Tory’s claims “are absolutely baseless.
“Tory Burch didn’t invent the cardigan sweater or the ballet flat. And she doesn’t have a monopoly on bright colors or gold buttons. C. Wonder has the same right to these timeless and basic elements as every other brand.”
Rossman added, “‘We are pleased the court has granted our request for an expedited trial in early spring, and we look forward to refuting their claims and proving ours.”
Tory Burch started her firm with her husband of ten years, Chris, in 2004. Their marriage ended the following year. The Tory Burch company now has 82 stores worldwide.
Tory’s trial judge, Leo Strine of Delaware Chancery Court, described the case as a “drunken WASP fest” to WWD. Tory is actually Jewish.
Chris has a new girlfriend, designerMonika Chiang, for whom he has provided seed money and helped launch a namesake brand.
Vanity Fair has described their bitter feud as “one of the oddest ex-spousal relationships in New York society.”
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