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.”
According to WWD, François-Henri Pinault shot back today against accusations that his luxury group supports plagiarism at a press conference following the publication of PPR’s 2011 results. Pinault was addressing the accusations Louboutin made to French daily Libération, where Louboutin compared PPR to counterfeiters and claimed the group was trying to destroy his independent label. Pinault responded to the accusations by indicating his confidence that Yves Saint Laurent would win the right to continue selling shoes with red soles in the ongoing case against Christian Louboutin. According to the PPR chairman and chief executive officer, “We won the first proceedings in quite precise, clear terms and I am therefore very confident with regard to this case, even if I regret it, because these are two great houses and I think we have better things to do than to fight in court over a question of color.”
Just a week after the Marc Jacob’s Spring 2012 collection was stolen during its transfer from Paris to London, the Wall Street Journal reports that 300,000 euros [$400, 760 at current exchange] of Louis Vuitton goods were stolen from the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. WWD reports that five masked individuals neutralized four employees and a security guard and took off with ten pallets of Louis Vuitton merchandise. Officials at Louis Vuitton declined to comment, however, French police are currently investigating the theft. According to WWD no further details are currently available.
Its not strange for one to wonder whether these two instances of major luxury theft within the span of one week, within close geographical location are a matter of coincidence or not. Regardless of whether these crimes were done by the same group of individuals, lets hope that enforcement officials can find some answers before other brands become the victims of such crimes.
Being the proud owner of a knockoff Chanel classic flag bag might seem innocent enough (and cause temporary delusions of wealth and relevance), but that small, synthetic object is a powerful symbol of the many counterfeit consumer products that sabotage designers and rob people of jobs around the world. As previously noted by Ella Brodskaya and Melissa Morales, representatives from the United States and seven other countries signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on October 1, 2011.
Rumors have been circulating about potential bidders for the sale of the luxury brand label Jimmy Choo Ltd. The man behind the fashion label, however is out of the running.
According to Elle UK (and the Financial Times),when the private equity group behind the luxury label, TowerBrook Capital, announced that it was exploring the idea of a sale, Jimmy Choo (the designer) declared his interest. But, it seems that TowerBrook have invited only three investors to advance to a second round of bidding, kicking Choo to the curb.
LVMH has been mentioned as a potential buyer, but the latest news comes from Reuters, on Tuesday April 19, 2011. Reuters reports that according to the Dow Jones report, Bahrain-based Investcorp INVB.BH and German luxury company Labelux Group have made a joint offer for Jimmy Choo, and U.S. private equity firm TPG is also in the process.
Chief Executive for Jones Group, Wesley Card, told Reuters in February that his company was looking to buy brands that would help extend Jones’ reach, particularly into overseas markets. In 2010, Jones bought high-end shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. “Acquisitions are an important part of our growth strategy,” Card said.
TowerBrook expects to sell Jimmy Choo for £400 to 500 million, which is double the company’s value since it was acquired four years ago for £180 million, Elle reports. Accordingly, Jimmy Choo himself hasn’t had a hand in the company since he sold his stake for £10 million, back in 2001.
But, that didn’t stop him from making a bid. He retained investment advisors to explore the prospect of an acquisition, and even attracted the support of the Malaysian government and other Asian investors for a shot at the company.
In Skokie, Cook County Illinois , over $250,000 of counterfeited sports gear was seized from a warehouse in the suburbs of Chicago. Ki Hwan Ahn, the store’s owner, has been investigated by police after receiving suspicious information about the store. The store had software to create stolen logos and large amounts of sports memorabilia. Over 10,000 items were found, such as clothing and hats of sports teams.
In Santa Ana, Orange County California, over $200,000 of counterfeited designer jeans was seized from a store in a local shopping center. Jair Garcia Hernandez, the iDress store manager, is being held for selling trademarked products without authorization. The denim store location in Westfield’s MainPlace mall sold jeans from designers such as True Religion for around $125, which normally sell for over $300. While investigators and police believe there will be more arrests made in connection with the counterfeits, Hernandez is currently the only person being held.
Take a look at this study article by the Economist regarding designer brands and counterfeit labels. While it comes as no surprise that more and more people do not care about the authenticity of their counterfeited products, the economist discusses the fact that knock-offs are not always thought of as inferior. This is because the label is what people consider so superior. So if the label is just attached to any other product, they do not care if the product is a fake, so long as people see that they have the label. Due to the fact that while the product may be believed to be high in value, the name is what brings in the real money. This is highly transferable. While it is not true that everyone shares this sentiment and that many actually care about the genuine product and label, there are plenty of people who merely care about the projection of the label and what people see. For example, while many enjoy for the flavor of Starbucks coffee, the study shows that the same trademark attached to a lesser quality coffee will do well also. A simple taste test to prove this point would prove that people care about portraying the coffee they are drinking than the genuineness of the product. Of course, none of this is news, but the article discusses all of this very clearly.
Take a look at this article published by the Daily Finance about the The 10 Most Counterfeited Products Sold in America. Footwear rounded out the top of the list for the 4th year in a row, representing 38% of products and over $100 million seized. Have a read for some of the other astounding numbers…
After hearing about the anti-Semetic rant, reading Melissa’s post, and watching the youtube video (disclaimer: offensive content), I figured it was only a matter of time before fashion designer John Galliano would be asked to step down as Dior’s lead designer. WWD reports that Dior ousted Galliano last Tuesday amidst mounting allegations that he uttered anti-Semitic insults, and an explosive video depicting him saying, “I love Hitler.”
TMZ reports that Natalie Portman, who just signed an endorsement deal with Dior (and is also Jewish) released a statement saying, “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced [Monday].”
The latest update, provided by NY Times, states that Galliano’s set to appear before the court in France to defend himself against the allegations. According to NY Times, French law makes it a crime to incite racial hatred; the statute has been used in the past to punish anti-Semitic remarks. The French advocacy group SOS Racisme said that it would support legal proceedings if the accusations were confirmed. ‘‘Mr. Galliano has added to the ignominy of his words with the cowardice of a denial,’’ it said in a statement.
Galliano responded, with an apology issued through his British law firm, ‘‘Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense.’’ In his defense, Galliano also responded in a statement issued by his counsel, that he was “subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing’’ during the altercation at a Paris cafe last week. Additionally, he has commenced a legal action for defamation.
If found guilty, Galliano may face up to six months in prison for his alleged racist outbursts, according to French prosecutors, who decided to put the British designer on trial after a police inquiry.