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A Scranton, Pa., clothing manufacturer is suing apparel giant Calvin Klein Inc., accusing its parent company of “a frontal assault” over a trademark that threatens to run the Calvin Clothing Co. Inc. out of business. The federal trademark infringement lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Scranton, seeks a court order to prevent Calvin Klein and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. from using the mark “Calvin” and to make them destroy any stock bearing that label. The lawsuit claims Calvin Clothing, named in 1935 for the owner’s young son, did not oppose Calvin Klein’s use of the name in marketing as long as it was never shortened to simply “Calvin.” “Over the years there is ample evidence of the two companies’ ‘understanding’ of this tacit agreement, and it was in the interest of both companies to maintain this status quo,” according to the complaint. Phillips-Van Heusen general counsel Mark Fischer did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday. Disputes over the similar names arose over the years, according to the lawsuit, but the matter reached a head after Phillips-Van Heusen agreed to purchase Calvin Klein in December 2002 for $400 million in cash and other considerations. Phillips-Van Heusen executives have said they would use the Calvin brand to sell boys’ tailored clothing and wanted to expand into products identical to those Calvin Clothing has made, Calvin Clothing alleges. The dispute has carried over into the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where Phillips-Van Heusen has taken actions to oppose some of Calvin Clothing’s trademark registrations. “In taking these actions, (the) defendants are either seeking to destroy Calvin Clothing’s right to use the Calvin mark or, at a minimum, to pigeonhole Calvin Clothing into an unsustainable niche market,” wrote Calvin Clothing lawyer Joseph R. Solfanelli in the 24-page lawsuit. Headquartered in Scranton, Calvin Clothing’s Calvin brand currently does $14 million in annual retail sales, down from a peak of $20 million in 2002. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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