Coach Grabs Win Against Counterfeiters
By David A. Utter
Even though The Simpsons had a chuckle about counterfeiting a notable name brand ("These Gucci wallets have to be on the streets of Hong Kong by Friday!" from the "Kamp Krusty" episode), the truth is no laughing matter. Coach, well known for its distinctive handbags, has been dealing with the issue of counterfeited items for years.
On Friday, Coach announced a significant win against the predators who trade upon its brand name. The company said it obtained a default judgment of $257 million in Illinois Federal Court against people and businesses operating websites selling counterfeited Coach merchandise.
Further, the Court awarded Coach ownership of 573 domain names. These domains were allegedly used as part of the illicit sales of faked Coach items online.
"This judgment should serve as a warning to everyone involved in any aspect of trafficking in counterfeit goods that Coach will find you and will seek to impose the harshest penalties available against you," said Todd Kahn, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Coach.
Coach began aggressively tracking down counterfeiters in 2009. The company launched "Operation Turnlock" that year. As we noted in May 2009, Coach led up to the initiative by filing more than 50 civil suits in states including New York, California, Florida, Georgia, and throughout the Midwest over a six month period.
Despite the company's intentions to root out criminals, their actions through Operation Turnlock hasn't been without controversy.
Apparently, the operation did sometimes ensnare innocent people selling authentic Coach items on sites like eBay. As noted in one thread on the EcommerceBytes forums, Coach counsel sent a cease and desist letter to one such seller who also happened to be a former Coach employee. The seller, Gina Kim, filed a lawsuit in February 2011 in response to Coach's allegations.
About the Author
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. Find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
About the author:
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.
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