By  on August 10, 2009

Gucci America Inc. took a novel approach to combating knockoffs on the Web last week when it sued three companies it alleges provided trade services to counterfeiters.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 5 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims that Houston, Tex.-based Woodforest National Bank; Bozeman, Mont.-based Frontline Processing Corp., and Colorado-based Durango Merchant Services all profited by doing business with Laurette Co. Inc., owner of

The fashion house won a $5.2 million judgment from Laurette last year after its owners admitted to selling counterfeit Gucci wares.

In the new lawsuit, Gucci alleges one or more of the defendants had some part in processing more than $500,000 in bank and credit card payments made to Laurette by its customers.

Lawyers for the luxury firm charge the defendants knew Laurette was selling fakes, as they labeled it a “replica” business and “high risk” account. By processing the transactions, the defendants “enjoyed a substantial financial benefit,” the suit alleges.

Chuck Vernon, general counsel for Woodforest, said Friday the company had only had a day to review the suit, but that it denied all the allegations and intends to defend itself vigorously.

“We certainly have not knowingly participated in anything of that nature,” Vernon said.

A spokesman for Durango Merchant Services said the company had not yet seen the suit, but added, “We don’t do anything illegal here.”

Frontline Processing did not return a call seeking comment.

Gucci is seeking to recover any profits the companies may have made from the transactions, an injunction barring them from participating in counterfeit sales and unspecified damages.

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