While Penn Intellectual Property Group (PIPG) was busy preparing for its Fashion Law Symposium, it had also caught the eye of Louis Vuitton’s legal department. It was not the promise of discussion on intellectual property protection for fashion that had the fashion giant so interested but instead the flyer giving notice of the event.
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.
NBC Washington recently reported that two airline employees were caught attempting to smuggle over $35,000 worth of counterfeit goods. The two were caught at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA. The brands of choice? None other than Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Coach, Prada and Ray Ban. Country of origin has been identified as China.
While recently doing my research for a blog I had written on the anti-counterfeitting efforts in Dubai I came across an informative, yet possibly misleading statement in a article by The National.
In the U.S. it is not uncommon for secret shoppers to be hired by retailers to provide intelligence about their stores, including effectiveness of employees and customer interactions. In Dubai, they are using them for a different reason, to combat the sale of counterfeit goods.
The secret shoppers are actually investigators part of the United Trademark and Patents Services, an anti-counterfeiting organization used by luxury companies to provide brand enforcement in the UAE. As many as forty investigators are part of the operation at a time. They pose as tourists and try to gain information from counterfeit vendors as to where their counterfeit storage facilities are located, containing the bulk of inventory. If there is usable information gained from the investigation, it is then passed on to the Police Anti-Economic Crime Department. They then start their own investigation and if the information proves to be correct, they raid the location. Years ago vendors in Dubai displayed the counterfeit goods freely, according to Imad Nazmi el Badawi, the United Trademarks director. But now they are concealed in hidden back rooms (a practice also frequently used by counterfeit vendors on Canal Street, in New York City).
World-renowned jeweler Chris Aire, President of Solid 21, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against 17 major watch and jewelry brands. On September 22, 2010, Aire filed suit against brands including Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Swatch Group, Omega, and Bulgari for trademark Infringement, unfair competition, false description, and injunctive and declaratory relief.
Chris Aire alleges that these companies are using the same or similar “RED GOLD” mark, which Solid 21, Inc and Chris Aire hold the US Trademark Registration to under the U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2, 793, 987, registered on December 16, 2003. The RED GOLD registration is for “fine jewelry made of a special alloying of gold with a distinct color made into fine jewelry, namely, watches, necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets, cuff links, ornamental hair pins, belt buckles of precious metal, tie clips and pegs, and earrings.” According to Accessories Magazine, Chris Aire alleges that these companies have been “improperly using ‘Red Gold’ in describing rose or pink gold watches and jewelry.”
A Paris Appeals Court has chosen to uphold a 2008 decision between LVMH and eBay. While the court chose to uphold the ruling in favor of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the damages eBay must pay has been amended by the court from € 38.9 million to € 5.7 million. The case, brought by LVMH, dealt with counterfeit goods sold on eBay’s website.
LVMH is also involved in a simultaneous suit with Google Inc. which has been referred to the Paris Court of Appeals. LVMH brought suit against Google Inc. in 2003 for permitting advertisers to purchase registered trademarked words. Previously in 2006, Google was ordered to pay LVMH € 300,000 by the Paris Central Court for trademark infringement.
BoingBoing reports on an exhibition at Kobe Fashion Museum featuring nine locust sculptures made by artist Mitsuhiro Okamoto from knockoff designer bags that was taken down after luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton filed a trademark infringement action.
Luxury brands tend to go above and beyond to justify the high price tags found on their goods. In the case of Louis Vuitton, the brand has a history of ad campaigns aimed at showcasing the handmade quality of its leather goods. From the videos found on it’s website showing the labor intensive creation of goods, LV seems to pride itself in use of human labor over mass machine based production. But with a recent print ad campaign displaying images of “artisans” crafting wallets and sewing handbags, U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority feels that LV has gone too far and breached its truthfulness clause. Under the ASA Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code 7.1, no marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
So what is the source of confusion?
I spotted this awesome re-covered Vespa seat on West Broadway earlier today. I’m thinking this might just be an unauthorized use of Vuitton’s monogram canvas, but I could be wrong I guess.
All I can say is that I wish I knew where they got the fabric…