By JOHN SUAYAN
HOUSTON – A business owner claims a popular clothing retailer is selling earrings similar to those in her line though it did not secure her permission to do so.
In a lawsuit filed June 9 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Deer Park resident Isabel Borczuch says a representative from Urban Outfitters, Inc. requested samples of her Herkimer Studs earrings only for the Philadelphia-based company to reproduce the jewelry and sell it as its own without authorization.
Borczuch is a jewelry designer and owner of the ISOBEL + EZRA jewelry label, which was launched in February 2012. The suit says ISOBEL + EZRA's jewelry was featured in numerous print and online media, including InStyle Magazine, D Magazine, German Glamour Magazine, Seattle Times, Anthology Magazine, Tribeza, and Craft & Culture.
Last August, a woman who identified herself as an assistant buyer for Urban Outfitters in the area of women's clothing and hair e-mailed the plaintiff, stating the company “would love to consider some pieces for our spring assortment.”
The complainant responded with file attachments of line sheets for her current product lines. According to the suit, she stated on one of the line sheets: “isobel+ezra hold exclusive copyright to all designs.”
Urban Outfitters requested and received ISOBEL + EZRA samples, included among these the Herkimer Studs. An associate of Borczuch contacted the defendant to see if it will make a purchase and return the samples.
Though Urban Outfitters said it sent the samples back to Borczuch, the original petition says, the plaintiff “to date” has not received the samples.
Borczuch says she went last month to a local Urban Outfitters store and “noticed earrings being offered for sale that were virtually identical to the Herkimer Studs samples she had sent to (Urban Outfitters).” She subsequently bought the earrings in question and applied to register her Herkimer Studs jewelry design with the United States Copyright Office, the suit says.
“The natural, probable and foreseeable result of Urban Outfitters’ wrongful conduct has been and continues to be to deprive Ms. Borczuch of the rights and benefits granted to her under copyright, including the exclusive right to use, reproduce, and to create derivative works based on the Herkimer Studs,” court papers allege.
Consequently, the plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Attorneys Greg W. Marcum and James R. Gourley of the law firm Carstens & Cahoon, LLP in Dallas are representing Borczuch.
Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:15-CV-1622