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Louis Vuitton Wins Federal Counterfeit Case in Manhattan Court

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 10/26/2008 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan ruled that Louis Vuitton Malletier SA should receive $3.5 million in damages, plus approximately $556,000 in legal expenses, in its trademark dispute. The suit, which was filed in November 2006 against the defendants LY USA Inc., Coco USA Inc., and Marco Leather Goods LTD, determined that these firms were notorious counterfeiters. All defendants, however, are appealing the case.

The picture below, showing a real Louis Vuitton bag next to a Marco Leather Goods bag, was posted on the WWDBusiness site in the article entitled Vuitton Awarded $3.5 Million in Counterfeiting Suit, by Matthew Lynch (10/20/2008). I am including the picture here because over time, links to articles often disappear.

In my opinion, it is very possible that the defendants did, in deed, produce counterfeit products and that those products were considered by the court. The Marco bag pictured above, however, does not look like a counterfeit. The shape of the bag, for example, is not subject to copyright laws, but the logo is. There is nothing about the print on the Marco bag that would fool me into thinking that it is a Louis Vuitton. If this is a counterfeit, then Tina Fey should be tossed into jail for imitating Sarah Palin (yes, we know the difference).

The U.S. Federal Court appears to have contradictory views. A case by Tiffany against eBay, which alleges that eBay continues to provide an environment that fosters the sale of counterfeit products, is still dragging on. In July 2008, the court ruled that eBay was not responsible for policing counterfeit listings on its auction site. This, in my opinion, is like saying that a community doesn't need a police department and even if it had one, that department it is not responsible for stopping crime. Tiffany appealed and as of October 22, 2008, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) filed a friend of the court brief in support of Tiffany's case.

The French court and the German Federal Supreme Court certainly don't agree with U.S. Federal Court rulings. In July, 2008, French court ruled that eBay must pay nearly $61 million in damages to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton for its continuing sale of counterfeit products, while in July 2007, the German court sought an injunction against eBay preventing the sale of fake Rolex watches.

U.S. justice is, indeed, confusing. In one case, a judgment has been brought against manufacturers who appear to make similar-but-not-counterfeit items, while in another, an acknowledged seller of counterfeit products is let off the hook because policing its Internet community just too hard to do in light of profits being made.

For an excellent recap of lawsuits against eBay, see eBay ordered to Pay $61 Million in Sale of Counterfeit Goods, by Doreen Carvajal, in the New York Times (July 1, 2008). For more information about Tiffany's appeal, read Tiffany Appeals Ruling in eBay Counterfeit Listings Case, by Stephanie Condon of CNET News (August 11, 2008).

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

Read Littleviews' Series on Fake Bags and Counterfeiting in NYC:

Copies are a Canal Street specialty, 7/6/03

How real designer bags compare with fakes, 8/6/03

Pictorial essay on illegal activity, 9/18/03

Learn about a TimeOut New York article on this subject, 9/26/04

Counterfeit merchandise seized in New York City, 6/30/05

Fake drugs, wine, handbags, and designer goods in New York City, 10/3/2006

Fake bags and counterfeiting in 2007 in New York City, 12/8/2007

Louis Vuitton Wins Federal Counterfeit Case in Manhattan Court, 10/26/2008

Counterfeitting Activity in New York - January 2009 through January 2010, 2/23/2010

Article by Karen Little. First published on 12/8/2007. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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