In-House Counsel

Former Gucci GC Questions the Fuss over His Inactive Status

The former general counsel for Gucci doesn’t think he deserved to be fired for working at the company while on inactive status, and he explains why in an affidavit filed in a battle over privileged communications in a trademark case.

Jonathan Moss says he didn’t think his inactive status affected his ability to work as in-house counsel, Corporate Counsel reports in an article published by Legal Week. It’s not true, Moss says, that he hid his inactive status from Gucci. The matter “never came up,” Moss says in the affidavit (PDF). “I believe that Gucci’s basis for terminating my employment is inconsistent with the facts and the law,” he writes.

Gucci contends it should be able to invoke the attorney-client privilege in a trademark infringement suit filed against Guess in part because it had “more than reasonable belief” that Moss was a lawyer. Moss says he supports Gucci’s privilege claim, but “Gucci is incorrect in alleging that I did anything misleading or inappropriate.”

Guess disagreed on the privilege issue in legal papers (PDF) filed on Friday, saying Gucci could have discovered Moss’ inactive status “with a few clicks of the mouse,” the New York Law Journal reports.

“All Gucci had to do was ask,” Guess writes. “Gucci could have readily learned that Jonathan Moss was not authorized to practice law simply by asking him whether he was an active member of the California Bar. That is what Guess did when it deposed Moss. And that is what Gucci never did in all the years Moss acted as Gucci’s legal counsel.”

Gucci claims in the trademark suit that Guess copied its product designs in an attempt to “Gucci-ize” its products, according to the New York Law Journal story.

Updated April 23 to fix a typographical error.

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