On May 30, 2000, Calvin Klein, Inc. (CKI) filed suit against Warnaco Group, Inc. and Linda Wachner, its CEO, for breaching its jeans wear licensing and distribution contract and, in so doing, diluting the equity of its brand. On June 26, 2000, Warnaco countered with its own suit, denying the major allegation of trademark dilution and justifying distribution through warehouse clubs as acceptable business practice. The counter suit further claimed that CKI had, in fact, breached the license and eroded the brand through its own strategies and practices. The lawsuits were precedent setting: This was the first time a licensed manufacturer/distributor had been charged with brand equity dilution or a designer held accountable for ineffective brand advertising. It was a case that would potentially rewrite the rules of fashion licensing and distribution, and bring into the limelight the tensions faced by every brand steward attempting to balance revenue growth goals with preservation of the equity of the brand. This case presents extensive background facts.
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