NORTH ATTLEBORO (CBS) – Will the real expandable wire charm bracelet please stand up?
The Rhode Island-based Alex and Ani is accusing another local jeweler of selling knockoffs of its wildly popular bangles. The North Attleboro company is called Nori Fundraising. Co-owner Chris Wynn says he does not think Alex and Ani has a corner on the design. “The general public doesn’t either. They see right away that there’s a difference,” says Wynn. He had a store called Northeast Jewelers that used to sell Alex and Ani. Now he’s closing the store, and marketing similar bracelets solely to schools and charitable organizations for fundraising.
Alex and Ani has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the jeweler “…distributed knockoff bangle bracelets…and attempted to capitalize on the goodwill of the distinctive Alex and Ani brand.” CEO Giovanni Feroce says it’s dishonest. “To have someone who is just trying to be greedy and make money off of somebody else’s idea and hard work is a pretty sad story,” he says.
Wynn has sold the bracelets to dozens of schools in New England, with charms of their logos. The schools sell the bracelets for fundraising. If Alex and Ani shuts them down he says, “…we lose our jobs, but the schools lose all the money they raise.”
He says expandable wire bracelets have been around for decades. Alex and Ani does have a patent on the design, part of what has led to the company’s huge success, which it wants to hold onto, alone.