Rolex counterfeit suit against La Californienne is resolved

After months of legal wrangling, Rolex and watch customiser La Californienne have reached a settlement that brings an end to a dispute over alleged counterfeiting.

The settlement was initially thrown out by the judge presiding over the case, but was adopted later after some final deliberations and amendments.

The Swiss luxury watchmaker’s filed a lawsuit last year accusing the Californian company – which sells customised or “re-imagined” versions of its luxury watches – of being infringing its trademark and copyrights.

The settlement comes down very much in Rolex’ favour, with La Californienne prohibited from using Rolex’ name – or any of its symbols such as the distinctive crown logo – although it can continue to carry out its customisation work on Rolex watches.

Los Angeles-based La Californienne customises its watches in a number of ways, for example “re-finishing” dials, which involves removing Rolex trademarks, making changes to the paint and in some cases adding features like diamonds, and then reapplying Rolex trademarks.

The settlement means that La Californienne can no longer reapply Rolex trademarks or indeed use “any of the Rolex registered trademarks or any reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colourable imitation of the Rolex registered trademarks in connection with the advertisement, promotion, offering for sale, or sale of its altered Rolex watches.”

However, it continues: “if asked, defendant can advise that defendant’s altered Rolex watches were formerly vintage Rolex watches, now modified.”

The bottom line is that La Californienne can continue to customise Rolex watches, but can’t refer to their heritage on the watches themselves or any advertising or promotion channel.

Shortly after the order all mention of Rolex was removed from La Californienne’s website, although it was still referencing other brands. At the time of writing it was displaying a landing page only with an email for service enquiries.

Each company has agreed to cover the own legal fees, and there is no other financial settlement in the case.

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