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Levi Strauss sues 100 designer rivals [01/29/2007]
Levi Strauss sues 100 designer rivals

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) -- Levi Strauss is suing designer-jean rivals for alleged trademark infringement, making the struggling jean maker one of fashion's most litigious U.S. companies.

The San Francisco company, which made its first trademarked metal-riveted jeans for miners during the California gold rush in 1873, has sued nearly 100 competitors since 2001, largely over the way they stitch and label their jeans, The New York Times reported.

Levi's said the lawsuits are to safeguard its jeans' defining features and are not about money.

But competitors told the Times the suits show Levi's is a sore loser.

Levi's sales have plummeted more than 40 percent to $4.1 billion since 1996. It has closed dozens of factories and laid off 7,600 employees, or nearly half its workforce, in the past five years.

"They missed the boat," Von Dutch Originals Chief Executive Officer Tonny Sorensen said to the Times. "Now they want to make a lot of noise and scare people away."

Other jean makers Levi's has sued include Esprit, Guess, Lucky Brand, Rock & Republic, Zegna and Zumiez.

Levi's 40 "denim detectives" scour boutiques and department stores worldwide, the Times article stated.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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