Trademarks and Brands

Amazon Taking Legal Action Against Counterfeit Merchants

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Wednesday, 23 November, 2016

In its first legal action against merchants selling counterfeit products on its online marketplace, Amazon filed two lawsuits In the US last week. The suit states: "When customers purchase counterfeit goods, it undermines the trust that customers, sellers, and manufacturers place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon's brand and causing irreparable reputational harm."

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Topics: counterfeits

Fake Apps Abound in Advance of Holiday Shopping Season

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Thursday, 10 November, 2016

Hoards of fake mobile apps have started appearing in the Apple App Store in advance of the upcoming holiday shopping season, according to a recent New York Times story. Chris Mason, chief executive of Branding Brand, which tracks new shopping apps, told the NYT: “We’re seeing a barrage of fake apps.”

Posing as high-end luxury brands like Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo, department store chains, and stores like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, counterfeit apps can pose serious danger to consumers — from credit card fraud, to identity theft, to exposure to malware.

One counterfeit app featuring the logo of fashion company Coach, Inc. offered “an extra 20 percent off.” The only problem is Coach doesn’t offer an iPhone app. Kanye West’s Yeezy line was another target of a knock-off app called “Sports Shop: Yeezy Boots” offering discounted products.

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Topics: Brand protection, counterfeits

EU Counterfeit Intercepts Increased by 15% in 2015

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Thursday, 6 October, 2016

A recent report released by the European Commission showed that in 2015, customs authorities had seized an estimated 5 million more counterfeit items over the previous year — an increase of 15% over 2014. In addition, more than 40 million products, worth about €650 million that were under suspicion of intellectual property rights violations were detained at EU borders in 2015.

Among the top types of items detained, cigarettes led the list, totaling 27%, followed closely by what are categorized as “everyday products” that can threaten a consumer’s health and safety, including food and beverages, toiletries, medicine, toys, and household electrical products.

China led the list of counterfeit-originating countries at 41%, followed by Montenegro, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Benin. In specific categories of counterfeit products, the following countries led as the country of origin for the following counterfeit products:

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Topics: counterfeits

Trade Groups Complain Alibaba’s Anti-Counterfeit Efforts Aren’t Working

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Friday, 2 September, 2016

Despite Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba’s claims that it’s making efforts to cut down the number of counterfeit products on its websites, multiple industry trade groups say it has failed so far, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing rampant counterfeit sales on Alibaba, trade groups including the Union des Fabricants, the French Federation of Leather Goods, and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry say the company’s efforts, including anti-counterfeiting hires, have not succeeded in reducing the number of counterfeit sales. The letter, viewed by the WSJ, said that Alibaba’s promises to make improvements “compel us to focus on what has not improved,” and stated “Trust cannot be hostage to delay.”

The WSJ reports that one example specifically noted by the trade groups was that “Alibaba’s software doesn’t detect images of fake products that are blurred, even though the e-commerce company has said that such images violate its rules.” In response, Alibaba said it plans to work closely with the brands to fight the counterfeit problem.

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Topics: counterfeits

Designer Alexander Wang Awarded $90 Million in Trademark and Cybersquatting Case

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Wednesday, 17 August, 2016

A US District Court judge awarded fashion designer Alexander Wang $90 million in damages in a trademark counterfeiting and cybersquatting case against 50 defendants who run 459 websites. The court froze the defendants’ websites and transferred their domain names to Wang.

Unfortunately, since most of the domain owners are nearly impossible to locate (and none of them showed up in court), Wang will likely never get the $90 million in damages. Cybersquatters often use fake names and bogus information in domain name registrations, leaving the courts to award default judgments. This fact was echoed in WWD’s report that a spokesperson for Wang said, "The court system regularly awards very large amounts for the symbolic significance, as a means of deterring other individuals and parties. In other words, Alexander Wang is unlikely to receive $90 million."

According to The Fashion Law, Operation in Our Sites, enables US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to work with partner organizations, like PayPal, to seize funds from accounts associated with defendants and websites selling counterfeit goods. But, since many domain owners are aware of this effort, they constantly move most of their money out of online accounts, leaving only small amounts behind available for seizure.

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Topics: counterfeits, trademark

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