TAIPEI — Taiwan’s newly formed Intellectual Property Court has ordered a former employee of Hermès Taiwan to pay the French luxury goods house $7.5 million for the alleged sale of four fake Birkin bags, according to Hermès’ legal team, Winkler Partners.
This story first appeared in the April 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The defendant in the case, Joyce Lee, worked for Hermès from 1998 and 2000, and later began flying to Paris to purchase bags for her own customers. Later, Lee allegedly passed off fake bags as real ones to her customers. Lee “used her previous position to gain credibility with her customers” and sold the counterfeit items “for even higher prices than genuine bags,” according to a source at Winkler.
In December 2006, Hermès Paris sued Lee for trademark infringement, and she was found guilty in April 2008. A civil suit was subsequently filed in Taiwan’s new IP Court, and Hermès Paris’ case against Lee became one of the first luxury goods cases to be heard. The $7.5 million fine is the largest award ever for trademark infringement, Winkler Partners said.
“We feel grateful that trademark could be protected by the law, and take this as a warning to those unscrupulous operators seeking to profit from the sale of counterfeit goods,” said Debby Cheng, managing director for Hermès Taiwan.