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Usually when we write about Robert Raskopf of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, he’s protecting IP rights in the sports arena, whether it’s for the Dallas Cowboys or the baseball card company Upper Deck. So we were pretty surprised when he told us about the subject of his latest case: Nail polish. Really, Bob? Nail polish? Nail polish indeed. On Wednesday Raskopf won a New York state supreme court temporary restraining order that essentially shuts down a new nail products company, MBA Beauty Inc., that competes directly with the Sally Hansen brand owned by his client, Coty Inc. The “Confetti” and “10″ brands at issue in the TRO hearing were developed by two former Sally Hansen executives who signed non-compete deals with Coty after Coty acquired Sally Hansen in December 2007. According to Coty’s complaint, the two executives, Harvey Alstodt and Bruce Kowalsky, earned big money from Coty when it bought Sally Hansen. Alstodt made $6 million in the acquisition, and was thereafter paid $450,000 in a non-compete deal. Kowalsky joined Coty as a sales VP, a job in which he earns $250,000 a year. Nevertheless, Coty asserts, the two secretly started a company to compete directly with Sally Hansen. Raskopf told us that Sally Hansen uncovered the deception when a couple of Coty executives noticed that the new Confetti and 10 nail polish lines included colors identical to newly-introduced Sally Hansen colors. (Personally, we think the colors, including chartreuse and turquoise, are more than a little too vivid, but then, we’re not 14 years old.) As the company tracked the ownership of the Confetti and 10 lines–and found Alstodt’s name on a trademark registration–Quinn Emanuel lawyers checked out nail polish displays at a CVS on 23rd Street. “We had to photograph the products,” Raskopf said. State supreme court justice Shirley Kornreich, who presided over the TRO hearing, said she’d previously issued only one temporary restraining order in a non-compete case in her entire career on the bench, according to Raskopf. She didn’t enjoin Kowalsky, but she ruled that Alstodt cannot compete with the Sally Hansen brand. “He has to shut down,” Raskopf told us. Justice Kornreich scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for next Thursday. Alstodt was not represented by counsel at the TRO hearing. Kowalsky had S. Preston Ricardo of Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe, who told us the judge found that Coty “hadn’t met its burden of establishing irreparable harm” against his client. He also said Kowalsky would contest the merits of Coty’s suit as the litigation moves forward. This story originally appeared in The Am Law Litigation Daily, a Corporate Counsel sibling publication.

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