The legal battle between Italian luxury brand Valentino and New York textile embroidery and garment manufacturer Mrinalini heated up this week, with the former calling the latter’s court motion as “a waste of resources.”
Earlier this month, Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of Valentino in the copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets suit brought against it by Mrinalini in March 2022. On March 1, the judge granted Valentino’s motion to compel arbitration and stay the case, denying Mrinalini’s motion to prohibit arbitration.
In its original suit, Mrinalini alleged that Valentino was passing off the Mrinalini’s designs as its own. The suit alleged that Valentino used Mrinalini’s copyrighted fabrics without permission and also incorporated a technique devised by Mrinalini called Intarsia, which joins several pieces of fabric into a rich, textured whole, and includes processes like hand and machine stitching and intensive manual labor.
“There have been many occasions where Valentino used and sold Mrinalini’s fabric designs that were wholly original to Mrinalini with no input from Valentino. This has happened from the earliest days of the relationship up to the present,” the original complaint said. “Valentino has even taken complete, original dresses and other garments from Mrinalini, and has shown them publicly on fashion runways, falsely passing them off as if they were created by Valentino.”
Mrinalini and Valentino had a more-than-15-year relationship in which the former would present the latter with its own designs and techniques with the understanding that the European firm would pay for those designs and techniques should it use them. The lawsuit claimed that Valentino did not adhere to those terms and also shared Mrinalini’s proprietary techniques with other suppliers to source cheaper garment production.
In response to Mrinalini’s lawsuit last year, Valentino filed a motion to dismiss the claim, pointing to a new agreement the two entered in 2014 that contained an arbitration clause giving sole arbitration to the Milan Chamber of Arbitration. Mrinalini then filed a motion to bar a separate arbitration in Italy, which Judge Vyskocil denied on March 1.
On March 6, Mrinalini asked the court to reconsider the order, saying the court “did not consider the correct ‘agreement’ in concluding that Mrinalini consented to have an arbitrator decide issues of arbitrability.” Mrinalini also argued the court should reconsider its decision to stay the case in favor of arbitration, but since the arbitration is actually taking place in Milan, “the court cannot compel arbitration outside of the district.”
Valentino responded with a filing on March 20, calling Mrinalini’s request for reconsideration “a waste of resources, especially since the sole arbitrator in the parties’ arbitration before the Milan Chamber of Arbitration issued his final award on March 9, 2023.” According to Valentino’s filing, the final award found “that nearly all of Mrinalini’s claims here are arbitrable and resolved Mrinalini’s claims in Valentino’s favor, [and] Mrinalini concedes as much.”