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Tiffany Montgomery
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Paul Frank restructuring leads to layoffs

By Tiffany Montgomery
September 27, 2007 7:17 AM

An internal reorganization at Paul Frank Industries has eliminated approximately two dozen jobs at the Costa Mesa company.


I had been hearing about the layoffs and put in some calls, and finally reached company spokeswoman Nancy Carlson yesterday. She did not know an exact number of positions eliminated last week but said it was in the "high 20's." Before the layoffs, the company employed approximately 130 people, Carlson said. Every department had to let a couple of people go.


I had also been hearing about a possible new partner at the company, but Nancy said she did not know about that and that no ownership changes had been communicated internally.


In August, Paul Frank Industries settled a wrongful termination lawsuit brought against the company by cofounder Paul Frank Sunich, who created the whimsical monkey Julius. Sunich left Paul Frank Industries in 2005. Carlson did not know if the layoffs were related to the lawsuit settlement.


In another legal case between the company and Sunich, a U.S. District judge ruled in August that Sunich could not use his full name on T-shirts he was selling online, according to a story by City News Service. The company filed a trademark infringement suit against Sunich after he began selling T-shirts under the name "Treestitch by Paul Frank Sunich." The judge ruled that Sunich cannot use his first and middle name on the shirts or other product lines. But he can use his full name on business cards or identify himself as a designer of products on his Web site as long as he adds a disclaimer that he is no longer involved with Paul Frank Industries.


Meanwhile, Paul Frank Industries continues to build on the popularity of its Small Paul line for toddlers. At recent trade shows, the company showed its new Small Paul line for infants and a Paul Frank line for tweens, both boys and girls. Those will hit stores in spring '08.


Paul Frank furniture for children, designed by Eric Pfeiffer, has also been added to the company's stable of licensed products that includes eyewear, bicycles, watches and housewares.


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