Two luxury jewelry makers are now duking it out in the legal arena. Per Reuters, Cartier on Monday filed suit against rival Tiffany & Co., alleging the latter company lured an unqualified junior-level staffer away in a bid to obtain trade secrets on Cartier's "High Jewellry" collection, with pieces that sell for up to $10 million. The complaint, which Richemont-owned Cartier says "[opens] a window into Tiffany's disturbing culture of misappropriating competitive information," alleges that Tiffany hired Megan Marino in mid-December in a merchandising role for its own high jewelry line despite her lack of experience with such items.
After Marino started working for Tiffany in early January, execs there started pumping her for info on Cartier's High Jewellry line, per the suit. Meanwhile, Cartier got wind she'd obtained a job at Tiffany and started looking into her activities before she'd left Cartier, discovering that Marino "had emailed to her personal Gmail account ... highly confidential and proprietary E-Mailed Cartier Information." Cartier sent Marino a cease-and-desist letter, cc'd to Tiffany, insisting she destroy any confidential info in her possession. Marino, who is also named in Cartier's suit, was fired from Tiffany on Feb. 11, in what Cartier frames as an attempt by Tiffany to blame Marino for the commotion.
To wit, the suit alleges she was fired "for failing to disclose her misconduct, while [Tiffany's took] no action against Tiffany’s senior leaders who pressured her to engage in it." In a statement, Cartier notes that "Tiffany's commercial ambition crossed the line between the ordinary course of business and unfair competition." Tiffany's curt statement on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages and a cessation of Tiffany using any of Cartier's trade secrets, denies the allegations. In an affidavit accompanying the complaint, Marino accuses Tiffany of being "more interested in hiring me as a source of information than as a High Jewelry manager." (Read more Cartier Jewelers stories.)