Russell Simmons sues The Millwork Trading
Russell Simmons announced that his companies have filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against The Millwork Trading Co. LTD (Li & Fung, USA) for fraud and breach of contract in connection to the "American Classics By Russell Simmons" and "Russell Simmons Argyleculture" trademarks. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $55 million.
In connection with the filing, Simmons released the following statement:
"Almost 20 years ago I pioneered a space that enabled an entire generation of minority designers and entrepreneurs to redefine the landscape of fashion. Similarly, there is an enormous void in the market to fulfill the aspirations of the Urban Graduate, who has grown out of this urban fashion trend but isn't represented by the mainstream brands. I set up Simmons Design Group, and its flagship brand, Argyleculture, to pioneer this vast open space.
In 2007, Li & Fung USA, a division of the Hong Kong-based apparel-sourcing powerhouse, which purported to be the market leader in the development of proprietary brands, approached me about obtaining the exclusive license for American Classics, my smart budget mass-market apparel brand. At that time we made it clear that Simmons Design Group's main focus was Argyleculture, and that the two brands needed to work synergistically and belonged together. They expressed a false enthusiasm for my flagship brand in order to induce me into licensing them my mass-market brand.
Li & Fung USA and I came to terms on both agreements provided that Li & Fung USA use its best efforts to manufacture, sell and promote American Classics and Argyleculture licensed products in the US.
After two years of repeated misrepresentations, failed execution and lack of development and support, it is blatantly clear that Li & Fung USA never intended perform its contractual obligations under both Argyleculture and American Classics trademarks. Therefore I have taken this action to protect my partnerships with retailers and recover millions in damages on behalf of my brands and to protect my name and reputation in the industry.
Over the last 30 years and with the help of numerous partners, I've built successful groundbreaking businesses in music, apparel, television, film, jewelry, games and multiple charities and causes. Not once have I ever had to file a lawsuit. For the first time in my career I found myself with a partner in Li & Fung, which had executives who willfully and repeatedly put the integrity of my brands at risk.
With Simmons Design Group and it's multiple licensees and powerful retail partners, I feel a strong commitment to pioneer a space that addresses a huge newly emerged demographic, the multi-racial, culturally sophisticated new American. I am taking direct control of the business and am in active discussions with future prospective partners."
Rush Communications LLC, Russell Simmons