High-End Retailers Take Aim At Target


Target is one of the few retailers enjoying a good Christmas season. Much of the giant discounter's success can be traced to their so-called "cheap chic" styles. However, some upscale competitors now claim Target's styles are not their own. Jane Wells investigated why one of the brightest retail lights of the holiday season might become a legal "target."

High-end retailers have been suing the retail giant, claiming Target has made billions selling inexpensive rip-offs of their luxury designs. The latest lawsuit came from Pottery Barn parent company Williams-Sonoma . It claims Target ripped off a Pottery Barn Christmas stocking design.

Target Luxury Design Lawsuit

The suit also claims Target has done this before: both retailers have sold very similar candle holders – Target’s retailed for $29.99 and Pottery Barn’s sold for $100 more.

Target has been sued before by Coach and Lucky Brand Jeans (owned by Just Group Limited ).

Stan Pohmer was a Target buyer for years who says the company works hard to avoid patent infringement. "It really is difficult to assess who's right and who's wrong until you really get into the mechanics of the product itself."

He points out the Coach lawsuit went away when it turned out Target had not copied Coach bags, but bought them legally at a liquidation sale.

Now Williams-Sonoma, which has made millions selling stockings, has asked a judge to pull Target's look-alike stocking off shelves. Target says it is investigating.

It is too early to tell if the lawsuits could take away steam from Target’s success – although a judge may have to decide which retailers, in this case at least, were naughty or nice.