The International Trademark Association, a group of major fashion and consumer product brands, launched an anticounterfeiting campaign to raise awareness among teens about the detrimental effects that counterfeits have on the global economy and on brand owners, as well as the potential dangers to consumers’ health.
WWD reported that the INTA’s new campaign, dubbed “Unreal,” emphasizes how social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, could be used to reach a target audience of 14- to 18-year-olds.
Because counterfeit items are readily available in many parts of the country, it is not surprising that teenagers buy them without realizing the economic and social consequences of their purchases. It is doubtful that a teenage girl has child labor or trademark infringement on her mind when she rummages through the fake Fendi wallets on Canal street in Manhattan or illegally downloads a song on the Internet.
“These are folks that are obviously the next generation of purchasers,” said INTA President Gregg Marazzo of Estee Lauder. “Even now they have significant purchasing power.” The goal of INTA’s Unreal campaign is to educate teens about the low quality and unreliability of counterfeits while also emphasizing the harmful social effects, including child labor, organized crime, and negative health impacts.
Alan Drewsen, executive director of INTA, said, “It is our hope that this information will influence their decision the next time they are approached by a site or vendor selling counterfeit goods.”
Anyone who has walked into a Guess store in the past four years has probably noticed that the company’s handbags resemble the iconic Gucci pattern. Sure, both brands start with the letter “G,” but does that really give Guess the right to use a trademark that is strikingly similar to the luxury brand?
According to a federal judge in Manhattan, the answer is no. On May 21, 2012, WWD reported that Gucci won its trademark battle against Guess Inc., but Gucci did not receive the damage award that it was expecting. Gucci claimed that it suffered $221 million in damages, but it was only awarded $4.7 million in combined damages from Guess and its footwear licensee Marc Fisher Footwear. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote that Gucci had proven its dilution claims under the Lanham Act, which is the primary federal trademark statute in the
United States, and limited Guess’ use of the Quattro G pattern in brown and beige colorways. However, Scheindlin rejected Gucci’s counterfeiting claim, noting “courts have uniformly restricted trademark counterfeiting claims to those situations where entire products have been copied stitch-for-stitch.”
In an eloquent twist, Scheindlin quoted Oscar Wilde, who described fashion as “a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” According to WWD, Scheindlin wrote, “With the instant disputes now resolved, and with Gucci’s entitlement to the relief noted above, it is my hope that this ugliness will be limited to the runway and shopping floor, rather than spilling over into the courts.”
In January Burberry filed a complaint against a group of Chinese internet counterfeiters for use of 22 distinct types of goods bearing Burberry trademarks. Defendants, owners of websites such as yesburberryvision.com and buyburberry.com, not only failed to appear in court but they also failed to answer Burberry’s complaint resulting in an award of $100 million to Burberry as well as any money held by Paypal Inc. Burberry was also awarded a permanent injunction transfering ownership of the domain names to them allowing them to prevent others from doing business with the defendants.
According to WWD, a jury in Memphis, Tennessee awarded Coach Inc. a little over $5 million on Tuesday March 21, 2012. The jury awarded this sum after it found that Frederick Goodfellow, an owner of a flea market, was guilty of infringing upon the brand’s trademarks. Based upon the lawsuit filed back in 2010 in the Western District of Tennessee, Goodfellow rented space to vendors who were selling counterfeit Coach products. Coach responded by suing Goodfellow along with the offending vendors for $2 million per counterfeit mark, the maximum in statutory damages. The jury subsequently found that the defendants infringed upon 21 of Coach’s trademarks and therefore awarded Coach $240,000 per mark infringed. According to WWD, this amounted to $5.04 million.
According to WWD, United States Customs and Border Protection officials have seized a shipment of counterfeit perfume bearing labels under the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. trademark. Authorities claim that the counterfeit perfume shipment included approximately 5,000 bottles valued at more than $344,000. According to officials, the counterfeit shipment was intercepted on January 24th at the Port of Houston and included thousands of perfume bottles bearing the Flirt and Sensuous labels owned by Estée Lauder.
Federal authorities busted two overlapping counterfeit schemes worth over $325 million dollars in clothing, footwear, cigarettes and drugs. wwd reports that “the chineese goods [were] imported into the United States through Port Newark and Port Elizabeth over the last two or three years by two different criminal conspiracies with overlapping members.” The Department of Justice claims that this is one of the largest counterfeit goods cases ever prosecuted.
How much do you think a knock-off luxury product really costs? Would you even think about the economic and social costs that counterfeit merchandise is directly responsible for? While some would think that purchasing counterfeits would be a bargain, it is important for the public (and companies themselves) to be aware of the extreme losses that industries face world-wide due to counterfeits.
According to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition Inc. (IACC), a non-profit organization located in Washington, D.C. organized to combat product counterfeiting and piracy, their statistics show the huge economic impact of counterfeiting in our society.
On November 15, 2011, Belal Amin Alsaidi, a thirty-year-old Virginia store owner, pleaded guilty to trafficking counterfeit goods. Alsaidi admitted that he sold counterfeit shoes and apparel at two of his stores from May 2007 through March 2009.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Alsaidi admitted that he purchased over 1,400 packages of counterfeit merchandise from an individual in New York. The merchandise included knockoff apparel from brands including Nike, NFL, Lacoste, True Religion, and Coogi. Alsaidi faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. The punishment illustrates law enforcement’s attempt to deter potential counterfeiters from committing this crime.
So, what will happen to all of these seized items?
Designer sunglasses are luxury fashion accessories that people all over the world want to purchase and collect. However, buyers beware of cheap but passable imitation sunglasses. As cheap as they are and as accurate as they look, one would never guess that these inferior sunglasses really do come at a price. Consumers should think about investing a little more money for the real deal to protect their eyes.
There is a reason why these fake designer sunglasses go for so cheap: they were cheap to make. Sunglasses require UVA protection, which is made possible by a specific layer added to the glass to give them 100% protection. Lack of protection can lead to cataracts, headaches, damaged lens and retina, and other trauma to the eye. Unfortunately, imitation designer sunglasses can be produced in practically any country with major manufacturing capabilities so authorities cannot stop mass production. In places like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where there is constant sun exposure, there are unbelievable bargains on designer sunglasses. Sometimes it takes a trained eye to spot the counterfeit logo and other times it is visible to the untrained eye. Consumers can look for watermarked lenses, look at the packaging, feel for durability, or even feel the weight difference of the eyewear.