Klein & Wilson

Founder of footwear company sued by his old business

A footwear company and the designer that the company is named after have gone to court after the company sued its eponymous founder for a variety of infractions surrounding an alleged breach of contract.

Donald J. Pilner is the designer who broke away from his own company, DJP Holdings LLC, on Aug. 1 of last year. Pilner and his wife sold their shares in the company to a private equity firm. Pilner built DLJ Holdings into a prominent footwear company, but after he left the company he signed a non-competition agreement. He started his own new line of footwear recently, and that has led to the alleged claims that he violated his non-compete, among many other charges that DLJ Holdings has filed against him.

For his sake, Pilner says his non-compete ended on June 3, 2016. He also says he understands the other charges against him and that he was aware of his legal position before starting his new footwear line, and such an understanding is reflected in his advertisements.

DLJ Holdings has accused Pilner of trademark infringement, false advertising, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition. They also say that Donald J. Pilner's likeness is not supposed to be associated with his competing footwear company, and that Pilner gave control of trademarks and intellectual property to DLJ Holdings as part of the deal to sell his stake in the company in 2015.

Pilner said he will not discontinue his new line of footwear in light of the lawsuit, and it will be interesting to see what happens from a legal standpoint going forward.

Source: Footwear News, "Designer Donald J. Pliner Sued By Former Label For Breach Of Contract," Sheena Butler-Young, Aug. 5, 2016

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