Fashion’s most covetable brand is not a fan of knock-offs. In a result that represents a win for luxury brands against replica sales, Chanel won a multimillion dollar trademark infringement lawsuit against a throng of Amazon sellers this week.
Chanel brought the suit in early April, accusing the Amazon sellers of distributing a range of counterfeit Chanel products, such as handbags, T-shirts and cell-phone covers emblazoned with the brand name. Chanel successfully alleged that the sellers were distributing knock-off Chanel-logoed goods.
To investigate its claims, the luxury brand hired two private investigators to look into sellers’ activity on the mass retail platform. The purchased products were found to be counterfeit.
The sellers’ also used the brand name as part of their search engine optimization strategy. Chanel said that amounted to illegal and unfair competition.
In an industry that relies upon brands maintaining a solid reputation and protecting how every element of its operations are perceived, infringement and intellectual property rights are taken seriously. Alexander Wang was awarded $90 million in damages last year after successfully suing over 45 defendants operating 459 websites that sold counterfeit goods bearing his eponymous brand’s name.
Chanel admitted it was unlikely to receive the $3 million total from the ruling, as the owners of the domains selling the illegal goods are impossible to trace.
WWD reports that, in April a few seller defendants attempted to escape the litigation. One store said it had earned only $48 from five sales of allegedly infringing goods, like a logo phone case, which it claimed had been “mistakenly” uploaded to the site in the first place.
For luxury power houses like Chanel, these types of infringement cases are not really about collecting damages. It boils down to a brand remaining diligent about protecting its image.
As a result of the case, Amazon is now required to disable the stores that were mentioned in the lawsuit and take down images of Chanel knock-offs.
So there goes Amazon as your go-to knock-off vendor. It’s back to the old fashioned way of satisfying your favorite foreign visitor’s counterfeit fix: Take to E train to Canal Street!