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February 7, 2013

Name game proves diamond in rough

Jeweler ends dispute with $20K gift to crisis center

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.

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