NEWBURYPORT — The owners of a downtown Newburyport jewelry store have opted not to fight a legal challenge over its name with “jeweler to the stars” Harry Winston.
And Greater Newburyport women and children looking to rebuild their lives after being abused by a loved one will reap a significant benefit as a result.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars in legal fees, Matt and Karyn Khatib of the former M.K. Winston Jewelers on State Street decided to change the name of their business to M.K. Benatti and donate the money earmarked for legal fees — $20,000 — to the local Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center.
The Khatibs’ longtime dream of operating a jewelry boutique in downtown Newburyport became a reality years ago when they opened their Newburyport shop. The couple say they devised the name for their business by combining their first initials — M and K — with the first name of Karyn Khatib’s grandfather, Winston K. Sherman. Her grandfather was a World War II veteran who fought in the decisive Battle of the Bulge, she said.
The name game issue first surfaced in November 2011, when a Harry Winston representative contacted the Khatibs and asked them to change the name of their store.
“We felt we had a right to (the name), so we decided to let them pursue it if they wanted to,” Karyn Khatib said last August.
But things took a disturbing turn last year when the couple received word they were being sued by Harry Winston for alleged copyright infringement. The Toronto-based company with locations across the U.S. claimed the trademarks “Winston” and “Harry Winston,” and ordered the local jeweler to stop using the Winston name.
Matt Khatib said he and his wife were frustrated by the company’s course of action, saying they simply were trying to make a living for their family. For weeks, the couple deliberated whether to fight the international jeweler in court and if such a battle could jeopardize their business.
But soon after getting notice of the threat of legal action, Matt Khatib told a reporter that instead of fighting a giant like Harry Winston, he and his wife were leaning toward giving the money for legal bills to charity.
Tomorrow, the Khatibs are expected to formally hand over that money to the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center at a 3 p.m. ceremony inside the store at 11 State St.
For more than 30 years, the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, located in Amesbury and Newburyport, has helped victims of domestic violence live their lives free of fear and threat of abuse. In 2011, the center aided more than 1,400 victims of domestic abuse, according to its website.
“Matt and Karen are two terrific, community-minded people who are involved in many local organizations and causes. We are so honored that they have chosen to support the work of the crisis center in such a creative, thoughtful and generous way,” Suzanne Dubus, the crisis center’s chief executive officer, said in response to the expected donation.
Karyn Khatib said yesterday she and her husband ultimately felt it more important to give back to an important part of the Greater Newburyport community rather than pour thousands of dollars into a legal battle over a name.
“We felt it will help them help local families,” Karyn Khatib said regarding the crisis center.
The Khatibs’ connection to the crisis center comes through Matt Khati, who is a member of the organization’s board of directors, according to Karyn Khatib.
“He sees what they do, that their services are so important and so needed in the area,” she said.
The presentation to the crisis center will be part of a renaming celebration for the jewelry shop. Cha,pagne and hors d’oeuvres will be served and the public is invited.