Counterfeiting - part II

Counterfeiters often target products of luxury companies, where profit margins are high, they want to explore the goodwill of the fashion labels with established reputation. Popularity of the Internet caused the sellers of fake goods to use it as the distribution channel. It is easy to conceal true identity of a company, sites can be moved to jurisdictions with weaker enforcement.

I would like to mention few recent cases with respect to counterfeiting in the fashion world. In 2010 federal jury in CA awarded $20 million in statutory damages to Versace against Los Angeles based- Tres Hermanos. The damages of that magnitude were awarded for the first time in the fashion history. Versace's motion for summary judgement was granted and as the Supreme Court held in Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television Inc. "the right to a jury trial includes the right to have a jury determine the amount of statutory damages, even where liability has been determined by summary judgment". In the above case, about 4000 fake Versace items were seized at Mr. Awada's place of business. At one point Mr. Awada was an authorized retailer for Versace, but some disagreements emerged and eventually his account was terminated. That's when defendant decided to illegally capitalize on the value of Versace's trademark. Plaintiff was easily able to proof defendant's intent (willfulness) to pass fake items as genuine Versace (the burden of proof by a preponderance of evidence was on plaintiff- Versace (as in many civil cases). It is a balance of probabilities, just enough evidence to make it more likely than not to be true).

In the trademark infringing case, Gucci v. Curveal Fashion, not only the court issued a default judgement against defendant and statutory damages in the amount of $13.5 million were awarded, but the discovery dispute arose between plaintiff and the third party, United Overseas Bank Limited due to the bank's role in processing payments for counterfeiters. Gucci requested $13.5 million in damages but the maximum statutory damages available in this case was $508 million. Since US court might compel a discovery request to produce documents (despite the fact that such disclosure could violate foreign law), the subpoena was issued for United Overseas Bank in Malaysia. Plaintiff's ability to enforce judgement depended on access to those records. Defendant's accounts held at UOBL were funded with the money from sales of counterfeit goods, so the court came to the conclusion that US interest in fully and properly adjudicating matters, outweights Malaysia's

interest in protecting its customer's records.

In 2008, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), the court issued a default judgment against defendant- owner of several websites selling fake Chanel items (Chanel was the plaintiff in the lawsuit). Defendant- Mr. Coheann failed to file a timely responsive pleading and expressed his intent to domicile in Israel and never return to the US. The statutory damages in the amount of $2.2 million were awarded.

The goal of damages is not only to punish wrongdoers but also to deter them from future infringing conducts.

 

Skupiamy się tutaj wyłącznie na podróbkach w świecie mody, ale warto pamiętać, że podrabiane może być prawie wszystko: samochody, lekarstwa, kosmetyki, płyty itd. Popularność internetu i możliwość dotarcia za jego pośrednictwem do mnóstwa odbiorców z całego świata, sprawia, że firmy sprzedające podróbki często korzystają z tego właśnie kanału dystrybucji, a ich siedziby znajdują się często w krajach, gdzie kary za omawiany proceder są stosunkowo łagodne.

Chciałabym wspomnieć teraz o kilku decyzjach amerykańskich sądów, dotyczących walki z podróbkami. W 2010, sąd federalny w Kalifornii nakazał, mającej swoją siedzibę w Los Angeles, firmie Tres Hermanos, zapłacenie odszkodowania w wysokości $20 mln firmie Versace (zgodnie z decyzją Sądu Najwyższego w Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television Inc. "the right to a jury trial includes the right to have a jury determine the amount of statutory damages, even where liability has been determined by summary judgment"). Z siedziby Tres Hermanos, której właścicielem był Monir Awada, skonfiskowano ponad 4 tys podrabianych artykułów z logo Versace. Awada był kiedyś autoryzowanym sprzedawcą produktów Versace, jednak po serii wzajemnych nieporozumien, firma Versace zerwała z nim umowę. Wówczas Awada wpadł na pomysł dalszego czerpania zysków z marki (już nielegalnie) i zaczął produkować i sprzedawać podróbki marki.

W innym przypadku, Gucci otrzymało odszkodowanie od Curveal Fashion w wysokości 13.5 mln $. Maksymalna kwota odszkodowania mogła w tym przypadku wynieść 508 mln $, jednak firma Gucci zaproponowała kwotę $13.5 mln. Amerykański sąd nakazał również, mającemu swoją siedzibę w Malezji, Bankowi UOBL, przekazanie wszystkich odpowiednich dokumentów, mających związek z operacjami finansowymi pozwanego. Kwota w wysokości 1 mln $ pochodząca ze sprzedaży podróbek, znajdowała się na koncie Curveal Fashion.

W 2008 roku, właścicielowi kilku stron internetowych, sprzedających podróbki Chanel- nakazano zapłacenie $2.2 mln marce Chanel.

 

Ewa Bytomska

 

Poniżej jedne z ostatnich danych z Wielkiej Brytanii:

"Drapers recently reported that counterfeits cost the Europeon fashion industry £5 billion each year and an overall of 400,000 jobs have been permanently lost in the past 20 years, as a result and that's in the UK alone. Throughout developed countries, the number rises to 2.5 million which is roughly 19,000 jobs a year. The World Customs Organisation reported that 7% of the world's trade and approximately 10% of the fashion trade is counterfeit with a massive 22% knowingly buying counterfeit products. Costs to the industry include reputation management, legal action, infringement, brand value and of course job losses."

 

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