Every designer has their own take on counterfeits and while some take the stance that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, most are choosing to fight fakes aggressively. Raids and seizures of counterfeit goods by law enforcement and lawsuits pursued by designers against counterfeit producers are in the news almost everyday.
Counterfeit Coach goods were part of a 2008 raid in New York City
The latest case to make headlines is the settlement Coach just scored against websites selling fake versions of their bags and other accessories. The brand has been awarded $257 million, which is one of the largest settlements yet and is almost double what most designers have been awarded in similar cases. Coach is also allowed to seize and shut down more than 573 domain names that infringed on their copyrights by selling fake Coach products. This, more than the monetary award, is what will really allow the brand to make an impact on counterfeit sales. The $257 million will be hard to collect because it’s almost impossible to locate those who are running the sites in order to collect the money, but remotely shutting down the sites will cut off the culprits’ stream of income.
The sites operated under names like coachbagfactory.com and my cheapcoach.com. They sold bags bearing the brand’s iconic “C” logo design and some with the Coach script pattern. Most of the websites used pictures from the brand’s official website, which made it hard for consumers to differentiate between the real site and the fake ones and in turn makes the sites even more profitable for counterfeiters. The pictures are just another way the site operators infringed on Coach’s intellectual property.
Coach’s official website
Website selling fake Coach products
Todd Kahn, the executive vice president and general counsel of Coach, is happy with “the magnitude of this judgment” not only because it benefits the company specifically, but also because it helps emphasize the severity of all counterfeiting. He hopes the case scares counterfeiters by showing them that the courts in this country will always rule against their illegal activity.
Authentic Coach bags
Coach’s battle against counterfeiters has been helped along by their “Operation Turnlock” initiative, which is a three-year-old program dedicated to going after counterfeiters, particularly those who operate entirely online. Coach is encouraging other brands to ramp up their efforts to stop counterfeiting too. Lawyers involved in the case believe all companies in the fashion industry “need to act very aggressively in this area” and that while this case is important, it is only a small part of the fight. Sites will continue to pop up all over the internet, especially those created by the same defendants as in lawsuits like this one, so the battle is far from over.