Good news for Tiffany & Co. in the fight against counterfeiters! The luxury jewellery brand have won a $2.2 million judgment and a permanent injunction against an internet counterfeit ring. The lawsuit, filed in Florida, had named 78 defendants operating websites with names including salestiffany.net, shoptiffanyco.com and tiffanycooutlet.co.uk, which sold counterfeit Tiffany jewellery. Tiffany argued that the names intended to confuse and deceive consumers in addition to infringing Tiffany’s trademark.
“Trademark counterfeiting severely damages brand owners and consumers alike,” said chairman and chief executive officer Michael Kowalski talking to WWD. “The way to stop it is to take aggressive action against the counterfeiters and make them pay, civilly. That’s what happened in this case, which should send a message to anyone trying to sell counterfeit Tiffany merchandise.”
As part of the judgment, the court required that the website’s operators transfer the domain names to Tiffany and ordered them to pay $2.2 million. Unfortunately tracking the individuals down is nigh on impossible and it’s unlikely Tiffany will ever see the money. Nonetheless, the loss of the domain names will no doubt seriously damage the counterfeit ring and is thus a huge victory for Tiffany.
The past decade has seen an explosion in the counterfeit goods industry and it is now estimated that 20% of clothing and shoes are counterfeit. The anonymity that the internet affords sellers of counterfeit goods, along with technological developments in the manufacturing process, have created unprecedented enforcement challenges for authorities. The trade in counterfeit goods is now a multi-billion pound industry and is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion in the UK alone, the majority of which is sold online. Online counterfeit websites can disappear at the press of a button making it impossible to catch and stop many of the sellers. Unfortunately for many trademark owners, the more valuable a trademark becomes, the more susceptible it is to counterfeiting. Ironically, the signature monogram canvas trademarked by Louis Vuitton was created to prevent counterfeiting yet today Louis Vuitton fakes account for 18% of counterfeit accessories seized in the European Union. Let’s hope the authorities continue to locate and shut down the websites. Remember – Fakes Are Never In Fashion!!