West Virginia dinnerware maker sues firms selling Chinese products
By Brian Bowling
Published: Monday, May 6, 2013, 2:15 p.m.
The last major manufacturer of dinnerware in the United States claimed in a federal lawsuit filed on Monday that companies in Arkansas and Illinois are undercutting its business by selling foreign-made knockoffs.
The Homer Laughlin China Co. of Newell, W.Va., claimed that Hanna's Candle Co. of Fayetteville, Ark., and The Bazaar Inc. of River Grove, Ill., are selling Carnaval dinnerware made in China that mimics Homer Laughlin's Fiesta dinnerware.
Charles Gibbons, one of Homer Laughlin's attorneys, said those are two outlets the company knows of, and it anticipates adding others to the intellectual property lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the Carnaval dishes and packaging are designed to mislead customers, he said.
“People are going to think that they're getting a Homer Laughlin product when, in fact, they're getting a cheap Chinese knockoff,” he said.
Tony Ligenza, chief financial officer of The Bazaar, said his company sells to other wholesalers and retailers rather than to the general public and that Hanna's Candle Co. will defend both companies in the lawsuit. Burt Hanna, CEO and founder of Hanna's Candle Co., couldn't be reached for comment.
Founded in 1871, Homer Laughlin China specializes in retail and commercial cooking and dinnerware and is best known for its colorful Fiesta line. It employs more than 1,000 workers and has annual sales of about $100 million.
Its Fiesta dinnerware is so popular that tourists flock year-round to the outlet store at the Ohio River town plant. Some of them sleep outside for days before a sale at its outlet store.
Fiesta is known for its signature colors and has been a collectible for decades.
Homer Laughlin China has two sides to its operations. Half of the company serves the retail market, with Fiesta as the focus and retailers such as Macy's, Kohl's, Dillard's and Boscov's selling the products. The other half produces dinnerware for hotels and restaurants. Commercial users include Cheesecake Factory, Applebee's and Resorts Unlimited.
The Fiesta line of dinner and salad plates, soup bowls, cups and saucers debuted in stores in 1936.
A new color is released each year. Fifteen are available, including peacock, tangerine and marigold, introduced in 2011 in honor of the line's 75th anniversary. There have been 43 colors in all. A color that experiences lower sales is retired each year, making it even more valuable to collectors. Flamingo was introduced in 2012, and lapis will be available for purchase this summer. The most popular color is scarlet.
In 2010, the company acquired Hall China Inc. of East Liverpool, a merger that added the ability to produce large mixing bowls and platters in addition to handling backlogs.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: A great day to appreciate No. 68
- LeBeau wants to come back as Steelers defensive coordinator
- Steelers safety Polamalu finds himself in tough position
- Norwin uses early-season experience to rout Latrobe
- Daily News roundup: West Mifflin girls roll in Section 4 opener
- Fashion FYI: Trunk shows opening up in Pittsburgh
- Power play, penalty kill help put Penguins on another 100-point pace
- West Mifflin wrestling team opens up with new look
- Pitt’s Donald sweeps Outland, Bednarik awards, named All-American
- Steelers notebook: Cutting down turnovers, sacks hasn’t led to victories
- Penguins notebook: Popularity with female fans brings test event to Consol