New York Fashion Week: Fashion law and fakes
Against the backdrop of New York Fashion Week, where designers are showcasing their upcoming collections at runway shows, Thomson Reuters Westlaw considers the fake fashion market: designer knockoffs and counterfeits.
Recent investigations into counterfeiting luxury goods and intellectual property rights crimes reveal how large and small scale operations bring in millions of dollars.
According to Westlaw data, 22 defendants were charged last month with smuggling millions of dollars in counterfeit luxury goods from China into the US., including fake Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch handbags, Michael Kors wallets and Hermes belts, among other wares.
“This investigation should be a crystal clear message that counterfeiting and intellectual property rights violations is anything but a victimless crime as it harms legitimate businesses, consumers and governments,” said Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York.
In another case earlier this year, a Florida man was sentenced to federal prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods after federal agents seized approximately 10,950 counterfeit items with false labels from brands including Gucci and Michael Kors.
“Criminals who sell counterfeit goods siphon trade away from legitimate businesses that create jobs and support our local economy,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.
Westlaw data also shows the prevalence of online counterfeiting crimes, such as when retail websites are set up to deceive consumers by using names similar to authentic brands.
Earlier this year, the Italian fashion house Fendi took on a counterfeiter who was using domain names that were “identical or confusingly similar to” Fendi trademarks, including fendihandbagsshop.com and fendihandbagsus.com. The disputed domain names were ordered to be transferred to Fendi.
New York Fashion Week ends soon. Unfortunately, despite efforts to combat the growing number intellectual property crimes, the faux fashion market shows no signs of shutting down.