After Korean actress Song Hye-kyo filed a $260,000 (S$350,000) lawsuit against the jewelry brand J.Estina, the company upped the ante against the actress, claiming the actress violated the terms of her contract and that her tax problems had caused it "significant losses."
J.Estina also claimed that the commercial use of images from TV series "Descendants of the Sun" was legal.
However, the series' production firm New Entertainment World hit back, saying that the jewelry firm's arguments lacked legal grounds.
J.Estina said in a press release Wednesday that it abided by the contract with TV series "Descendants of the Sun" production staff, which allowed it to use stills from the episodes.
The press release, distributed to media in response to the accusations against J.Estina made by Song's legal representatives, The Firm, added that it was the 34-year-old Song who "breached the contract to exclusively use its products." Song wore jewelry from other brands in some other episodes.
J.Estina claimed it is legitimate to use Song's picture as one of the main sponsors of "Descendants of the Sun."
The firm, which signed a $2.6 million contract with the actress last year but did not extend it, invoked Song's tax irregularities that were revealed in 2015, saying they "triggered a significant loss" in its profitability.
Next Entertainment World, however, denied J.Estina's claim that it has approved the commercial use of the image.
"It is widely perceived as a norm for a company to get permission from the talent in such cases," a source from Next Entertainment World told Star News Wednesday.
"Moreover, J.Estina was the only company that used snaps from the series for commercial purposes." the source added. "J.Estina did so without our consent. We warned the company several times against its excessive misappropriation."
According to a Dispatch report on Thursday, J.Estina inked a $61,000 contract with the Next Entertainment World to expose its products through the series twice.
The report said it was not problematic to wear jewelry products from companies other than the main sponsor J.Estina, quoting a source from TV series production firm, once the series exposed the products met the given product placement quota.
"A production company cannot force an actor or actress to put on jewelry from a company with a product placement contract," the source was quoted as saying.
The Firm said that J.Estina had "tarnished the actress' reputation" by bringing up her tax irregularities and would "take action against it."
"This is such an outrageous act," a lawyer from the agency told Sports Daily Wednesday. "The first thing they do is shred the reputation of an actress. We are very intimidated (by their act of misleading the public)."
J.Estina exposed its products including earrings and necklaces through product placement in the series that stirred global attention, prompting its net sales to soar about 70 per cent on-year in March.