Hoffman claims the defendants never asked a fundamental question: Why were the products marked China on one side and Solingen Germany on the other?
Solingen, the association insists, has been renowned for its cutlery, knives and scissors for eight centuries. Only products produced in Solingen, Germany, that meet requirements set forth under a German law called the Solingen Decree may bear the name. Further, the trademark has been registered in the United States since 1974.
The defendants' answer filed December 5 acknowledges, "They are not licensed by the plaintiff to use the Solingen certification mark."
The German association claims it became aware of the counterfeits last spring and began buying the products as part of its investigation. It accuses the defendants of procuring inferior steel products from Chinese suppliers.
The defense response said, "SED believes that the cutlery is at least in part manufactured in China, but otherwise the defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny allegations as to how and where said cutlery is made."
Despite making some admissions about the procurement of products, marketing and sales, the defendants rejected the German association's demand for damages.
Judge Williams ordered the parties to file a joint pretrial conference report by January 11.