Cartier is convinced Tiffany & Co. stole from it.
In fact, the luxury jeweler is so sure of this that it sued its rival in New York state court on Monday, reports Bloomberg News. In the complaint, the Richemont-owned brand accused the recent LVMH acquisition of stealing trade secrets when it hired a former Cartier “junior manager” to work on its “high jewelry” collection.
The lawsuit doesn’t just name the jeweler, it also names the former junior manager, Megan Marino. In it, Cartier claims that Tiffany hired her in an attempt to revive its own high jewelry line, which includes pieces that cost between $50,000 to $10 million. Before she left the French jeweler, though, she allegedly downloaded confidential information about its own similar line and passed it along to her new colleagues when she began working with them this past November.
Cartier says it launched an investigation into the matter, which it claims shed light on Tiffany’s “disturbing culture of misappropriating competitive information.” As a result of its investigation, it says Tiffany fired Marino after its legal department was informed of her behavior, according to the complaint. By then, though, the damage had already been done.
In an affidavit accompanying lawsuit, Marino said Tiffany was “more interested in hiring me as a source of information than as a High Jewelry manager,” reports The Guardian. The UK paper also reports that the American jeweler let a former Cartier executive work on another project called “The Blue Book,” despite and existing six-month non-compete agreement.
Neither Cartier nor Tiffany immediately responded to a request for comment from Robb Report, but a spokesperson for the latter told Bloomberg: “We deny the baseless allegation and will vigorously defend ourselves.”
This isn’t the first time Cartier has accused Tiffany of acting improperly. In 2014, it sued a former advertising executive who moved to Tiffany and allegedly tried to get their former assistant to join them and bring along confidential information. The matter was settled the next year, the details of which were not disclosed publicly.
Cartier and Tiffany aren’t the only luxury rivals to butt heads in a court room, though. In 2011, Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent claiming the latter had used its signature sole on a pair of monochromatic red shoes. It took three years, but eventually the courts decided Louboutin’s red soles were protected, but only when they contrasted with the rest of the shoe.