All-Clad cookware is famous among cooks and bakers, and also for its popular “seconds” sales that have been held over the years at the factory in Cecil Township, The Meadows Racetrack, and, most recently, the county Fairgrounds and Expo Center.
Those who lack proximity to the bargains may turn to the internet for access to the highly regarded pots and pans, but a federal court suit filed recently by All-Clad Metalcrafters LLC not only warns, “Buyer beware,” but alleges trademark infringement by a website it traced to Las Vegas, Nev., that the actual company accuses of selling inferior products bearing the All-Clad name.
An attorney for All-Clad identifies Karen Restivo of Golfers Oasis Drive and those known only as “John Doe” individually or as corporate or business entities who may have supplied counterfeit cookware to an Amazon.com storefront known as “Garen’s”
All-Clad does not name Amazon.com as a defendant, and it doesn’t yet know who is providing the knock-offs.
The suit filed recently in U.S. District Court recounts All-Clad’s history back to the company’s founder, John Ulam, whom it identifies as “a brilliant metallurgist” who “realized the combination of different metals created composites that yielded superior results.
“After years of perfecting the bonding process, he established All-Clad Metalcrafters in 1971” and began producing professional-quality cookware for working chefs and avid home cooks,” the suit states.
“Today, All-Clad cookware is still handcrafted with American-made steel” at a plant in Cecil Township with a Canonsburg address “the same way it was a half-century ago.”
It sells the high-end products, which carry U.S. patents, exclusively in the United States through a network of authorized retailers that have brick-and-mortar stores and/or online websites.
Authorized retailers can sell online only with All-Clad’s written consent so the company can exercise quality control, according to the suit.
But some have referred to the internet as the Wild West when it comes to the sale of counterfeit products, and the fakes can lead to negative online reviews that reflect badly on the real thing and hurt a brand’s placement in search results.
“Amazon does not allow product review to identify the seller that sold the product,” Pittsburgh attorney Mark C. Zheng wrote in his complaint, but because of high volume, he asserts that it’s likely some of the negative reviews cited in the court document were written by those who purchased what was passed off as All-Clad by the defendants.
The All-Clad limited lifetime warranty covers only products from authorized sellers, and the company says it monitors sales online.
In November of last year, All-Clad discovered a high volume of its products being sold on Amazon under the Garen’s storefront name.
“No contact information was provided by the storefront,” according to the suit. “After spending significant time and money investigating the storefront,” All-Clad says in the suit it connected Restivo to it and that it is not an authorized dealer.
Legal counsel for the company sent Restivo a cease-and-desist letter demanding that she stop “selling materially different products bearing the All-Clad registered trademark.”
Zheng said Restivo did not reply, so, in its suit, it asks for an injunction, damages and a jury trial.
“Defendants undertake great efforts to maintain anonymity and prevent anyone from contacting them regarding their business and the poor-quality products they sell to unwitting consumers,” Zheng wrote.
This creates confusion and infringes on All-Clad registered trademarks, diminishing their value.
The company asked the court to prohibit those enjoined from using any of the All-Clad registered trademarks in any manner, including online advertising, and award All-Clad attorney’s fees, costs and expenses associated with its legal action.
Attempts to reach Restivo Thursday afternoon at several phone numbers listed for that name in an online database for the Las Vegas area were not successful.