NEW YORK — Tiffany & Co. won a $2.2 million judgment and a permanent injunction against a ring of Internet counterfeiters Thursday.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Filed in the southern district of Florida, the lawsuit named 78 defendants operating Web sites such as salestiffany.net, shoptiffanyco.com, tiffanyandcomall.com, tiffanycooutlet.co.uk, which sold counterfeit Tiffany jewelry.
According to the New York-based retailer, the domain names not only “intended to confuse and deceive consumers,” but they also infringed on the firm’s trademarks.
As part of the judgment, the court required that the Web site operators’ infringing domain names be transferred to Tiffany. It also requested that $2.2 million be paid to Tiffany, but tracking down Internet counterfeiters to collect damages is extremely difficult, making the likelihood of collecting very slim.
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“Trademark counterfeiting severely damages brand owners and consumers alike,” said chairman and chief executive officer Michael Kowalski. “The way to stop it is to take aggressive action against the counterfeiters and make them pay, civilly. That’s what happened in this case, which should send a message to anyone trying to sell counterfeit Tiffany merchandise.”
According to Susan Scafidi, academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University here, Tiffany’s real victory was not linked to the monetary sum awarded by the court.
“The big treat in Tiffany’s Halloween court victory was the transfer of the domain names that had been used to trick consumers into buying fakes,” she said. “While Tiffany may never see the $2.2 million in damages, they should be anything but blue over their victory.”