New York’s Federal Court recently awarded luxury fashion brand Tory Burch $164 million in damages against online counterfeiters. It is believed to be the largest issued award in the fashion industry and is a record breaking victory against a group of counterfeiters that set up hundreds of rogue websites which sold fake versions of the company’s signature apparel and accessories. These professional looking sites appeared to be associated with the brand as they displayed the company’s logos, product images and detailed product descriptions drawn directly from the official Tory Burch website. Many of these fake sites also included domain names that incorporated the brand Tory Burch” creating additional confusion for consumers.
In addition to the monetary award the 232 counterfeit sites that sold counterfeit Tory Burch products have been permanently disabled and turned over to the label. The court also ordered that in the future the brand will be able to take down any defendants’ additional sites that sell Tory Burch fakes without having to go to court. The precedent for this type of case was set last fall when both Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face filed suit against several online counterfeiters. The two brands not only won $78 million in damages but also won control of the domains used for counterfeit sales ultimately giving the brands the right to shut down any new counterfeit sites without having to file an injunction.
Steven Kolb executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America told WWD’s Alex Steigrad who broke the story last week “This is an important victory for Tory and all designers. Counterfeiting not only robs the designer of what is rightfully theirs but also negatively impacts the American economy and the jobs associated with designers’ investments.”
While the fight against counterfeiters is not yet over the judgment sends a clear message to online counterfeiters – action will be taken. With the explosive growth of the Internet online enforcement is a critical element of any brand protection strategy. Hopefully these rulings indicate an upcoming trend that similar cases will follow with brands collecting not only massive awards but also more importantly the ability to easily disable counterfeit websites in the future.”