The lawsuit alleges that counterfeit goods including handbags, tops, cases for telephones and protective covers for portable electronic devices including cell phones have been sold by the defendants on online e-commerce websites such as Amazon.com.
The lawsuit has been filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of California and Chanel is seeking preliminary and permanent injunction against the defendant’s, statutory damages for each defendant for $2 million per counterfeited trademark used and sold, costs of bringing the action, pre-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees.
The counterfeiters are unidentified in the lawsuit but it is alleged that the defendants operate in “foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement systems”. Chanel further alleges that the defendants have committed unfair competition and they have falsely designated the goods’ origins.
Chanel allege that the sellers have set up online seller identifications for the sole purpose of engaging in illegal counterfeiting activities and in doing so they have engaged in fraudulent conduct. The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants will continue to register or acquire new seller identification aliases for the purpose of selling and offering for sale counterfeit goods.
The Paris based fashion house owns registered trade marks for both the word ‘Chanel’ and the logo ‘Chanel’. These trade marks cover a variety of classes including 9,16, 18, and 25 and are in respect of goods such as handbags, cases for telephones and amongst other goods clothing (i.e. jackets, gloves, footwear etc.).
The value of trade marks in the world of high-end luxury fashion is immense. Often times shoppers are drawn to a brand not for the quality of its goods and nor for the design of the goods, but for the brand’s reputation. This is signified by the brands’ many trade marks. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the brands’ intellectual property, particularly its trade marks are hugely significant assets. In light of this brands such as Chanel who operate exclusively in the luxury sector are understandably not afraid to expend vast amounts of money and resources to protect its valuable trade marks. Chanel notes in the lawsuit that it “expends significant monetary resources in connection with trademark enforcement efforts”. It further states that “the recent explosion of counterfeiting over the internet, particularly through online marketplace platforms has created an environment that requires companies to expend significant time and money, across a wide spectrum of efforts in order to protect both consumers and itself from all the effects of confusion and the erosion of the goodwill connected to Chanel’s brand”.