The battle for beauty is getting ugly. Iconic high-fashion label Cartier has filed a lawsuit against long-time rival Tiffany & Co, accusing the American brand of stealing trade secrets regarding its jewellery portfolio. According to a complaint filed in a New York State court on Monday, the whole action concerns just one (presumably very sheepish) employee.
As Reuters reports, in December Tiffany & Co. hired away Megan Marino, an ‘under-qualified junior manager’ to learn more about Cartier’s high-jewellery portfolio. What was originally touted as a move into a different area of luxury fashion came at a cost, however, when Cartier took offence to losing one of their own. The Richemont SA-backed business reportedly labelled the hiring as a “desperate bid” to revive its jewellery faction following a series of departures, even going so far as to allege it was a function of Tiffany & Co.’s “disturbing culture of misappropriating competitive information”.
For the woman caught in the middle of the high-fashion fight, things didn’t get any easier. Just five weeks into her employment with Tiffany & Co., the New York-based enterprise reportedly fired her, but she isn’t going quietly. In an affidavit accompanying the complaint, Marino, who is accused of downloading confidential Cartier information and sharing it with fellow Tiffany & Co. employees, said Tiffany was “more interested in hiring me as a source of information than as a High Jewellery Manager”.
While Tiffany & Co. has not publicly responded to the ongoing suit, a statement shared with Bloomberg on Monday denied the accusations as “baseless allegation”. Whatever the case, Cartier is seeking an injunction requiring that Tiffany return and not use stolen trade secrets, plus unspecified damages.
It’s not the only bold claim Cartier is making against Tiffany & Co. either. The iconic jewellery brand is also alleging that Tiffany & Co. breached certain contract laws by hiring a former Cartier executive to work on a high jewellery project called the “Blue Book”. According to Cartier, this act went ahead despite her six-month non-compete agreement.
In fact, the two brands have a long and storied history of biting back at one another. Back in 2014, Cartier was reported to have filed a suit suggesting that a former advertising director had attempted to get an employee to download confidential documents, before allegedly making attempts to hire that employee at Tiffany & Co. As Complex points out, the suit didn’t eventuate to much, with the employee in question later arguing that the case should be dismissed due to the fact that “no such information had been obtained or used”.
Cartier is owned by Switzerland’s Richemont SA, which also operates fellow high-end jewellery brands Buccellati and Van Cleef & Arpels.