By  on April 22, 2010

Luxury brands fighting Web sites that sell phony goods is business as usual; luxury brands fighting each other over those sites is not.

Yet that’s what happened briefly this week when a lawyer for Chanel Inc. wrote to a federal judge over the fate of one-time fakes purveyor, a site Chanel has controlled since last summer as a result of a prior legal action.

Four Gucci Group brands — Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta — included the site among a handful of defendants in a trademark suit it brought earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. After the initial filing, the court granted the brands a restraining order that barred Web hosts and other Internet service providers from doing business with the site or its owner.

That presented a problem for Chanel, which pointed out it owns in a letter presented to the court Monday.

Last June, a federal court in Florida transferred control of the domain to Chanel after it cofiled its own suit with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton against the site’s then-alleged operator, Sean Dollinger. In the months since it took over, Chanel has used the Web space to post a judgment from the earlier case and information about other counterfeiters.

In the letter, Chanel attorney Barbara Solomon wrote of the Gucci Group suit: “…there is no basis for requesting any relief against the URL or Web site as it is devoted to anticounterfeiting activities and is certainly not engaged in any activities at issue in the lawsuit.” The company also wrote it had been served with papers in the new suit through the site’s general e-mail address.

The Gucci Group brands responded with their own letter Monday, which said they did not intend to seek relief from Chanel or LVMH. Instead, their attorney wrote, they had brought the action against the site’s prior operators and did not mean to serve Chanel as a defendant with the e-mail.

Both sides entered into a stipulation Tuesday that made clear the Gucci Group brands wouldn’t add claims against Chanel or LVMH or attempt to gain control of through their ongoing suit.

“It was a minor bit of confusion that’s been resolved completely,” Robert Weigel, attorney for the Gucci Group brands, said Wednesday.

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