Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: T.R. Tunnell, executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary Age: 50 Tick tock trader: Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, just outside Dallas, Fossil Inc. makes and markets watches and fashion accessories, including jewelry, sunglasses, handbags and belts. Its products are sold in 17,500 U.S. retail locations, including several major department store chains, 90 company-owned shops, an online catalog and through distributors worldwide. Most of its watches are made in company-controlled factories in Eastern Asia. The 4,500-employee company had more than $750 million in 2003 revenue. Tunnell time: Fossil’s top lawyer divides his time between management and legal activities. As executive vice president, T.R. Tunnell oversees Fossil’s human resources office and is deeply involved in major business development projects. He has sealed the deal for many of Fossil’s recent foreign forays, such as the purchases of Swiss watchmakers, dealers and retailers, and licensing agreements to make and market jewelry for Italy’s Giorgio Armani. As Fossil’s chief legal officer, Tunnell supervises General Counsel Randy Hynes, newly hired in-house counsel Tom Smith and paralegal Tira Harrell. While Tunnell concentrates on securities matters and international transactions, Hynes handles most domestic legal affairs and Smith focuses on retail and real estate matters. Tunnell reports to the brothers who run the company: President and CEO Kosta Kartsotis and Chairman Tom Kartsotis. Litigation: Fossil has a relatively light litigation docket, said Tunnell, mostly “routine employment-related stuff” and the occasional trademark or patent case. Fossil’s 2003 annual report reports no material pending litigation. In February 2003, sunglass maker Oakley Inc. sued Fossil in federal court in San Diego, alleging that two Fossil sunglass models infringed Oakley’s patented “Iridium” lens coating. Fossil settled the suit last spring, said Tunnell, who declined to comment on the case or its resolution. According to Tunnell, Fossil has never had any transactional litigation. Despite the sale of millions of watches worldwide, the company is also untroubled by products liability suits, he said. “One of the advantages of making watches is that they really don’t do any harm to anyone,” Tunnell explained. Intellectual property: Fossil is zealous in guarding the trademarks and patents for its watches and other products, said Tunnell. He ensures that the trademark registrations are kept current in the United States and other markets. Tunnell is vigilant for product pirates who sell outright knockoffs or slyly similar versions of Fossil’s well-advertised brands-such as a watch recently marketed under the name “Fossile.” Once the company identifies the infringing manufacturer or seller, Tunnell can usually resolve the matter through a cease-and-desist letter. Last August, Fossil and Boit Inc. filed a patent infringement complaint in federal court in Dallas against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Timex Corp. The complaint alleged that Chariot watches, made by a Timex subsidiary and marketed in Wal-Mart stores, violate the plaintiffs’ patents on liquid crystal display watch faces. The parties are engaged in settlement talks, said Tunnell, who demurred on further discussion of the case. Sarbanes-Oxley: Tunnell helped develop Fossil’s procedures for complying with the new financial reporting and certification requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Before CEO Kosta Kartsotis and Chief Financial Officer Mike Kovar certify the quarterly and annual reports, they have reviewed the numbers with the audit committee and senior executives. Certification is also preceded by more than 20 “sub-certifications” from responsible managers and financial personnel, said Tunnell. Fossil already had trustworthy accounting and reporting procedures before Sarbanes-Oxley, said Tunnell, but the law has helped to heighten awareness of individual accountability for corporate accounting. “The challenge going forward is to make sure it doesn’t become a paperwork exercise,” he said. Billable hours: Local lawyers at Dallas’ Jenkens & Gilchrist watch out for Fossil’s corporate and securities work, and Dallas’ Thompson & Knight handles trademark and patent matters. Legal business in Europe is coordinated by Zurich, Switzerland, law firm CMS von Erlach Klainguti Stettler Wille. Texas timekeeper: Born in Tyler, Texas, 100 miles east of Dallas, Thomas Rusk Tunnell was named after great-great-grandfather Thomas Jefferson Rusk, the Lone Star State’s first senator. He is the son of the late attorney Joe Tunnell, a federal and state prosecutor, private lawyer and state court judge in Tyler. Tunnell graduated from East Texas State University in 1975 and received his J.D. in 1980 from Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law. After law school, Tunnell signed on with Dallas’ Vial Hamilton Koch Tubb Knox & Stradley, concentrating on products liability defense. In 1983, Tunnell accepted a friend’s invitation to join the law department of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Over the next 10 years, he worked on regulatory, securities and commercial matters at the company’s Dallas headquarters, rising from staff attorney to vice president. In 1993, Tunnell was hired as Fossil’s first general counsel. He immediately went to work establishing the law department’s role in the public company, including responsibility for securities and corporate governance matters. Frustrated that that he was not more involved in Fossil’s management, Tunnell left the company in 1996 to become GC of Pillowtex Corp., a Dallas-based mattress and pillow maker. However, he remained in touch with Fossil Chairman Tom Kartsotis, who hired him back in 1997. Since returning, Tunnell said, he has had a more satisfying portfolio, including greater responsibility for business development, acquisitions and licensing matters. Family time: Tunnell met his wife, Debbie, when both were SMU law students. She now works as an executive recruiter for nonprofit organizations. The couple have two sons: Matthew, 19, a freshman at SMU, and Adam, 18, a high school senior. They live in Dallas, with a summer home in Crested Butte, Colo. Last book and movie: John Adams, by David McCullough, and Lost in Translation.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.