Despite increased enforcement efforts, sales of counterfeit goods are a major headache for brand owners.
Although exact estimates of the scope of the illegal industry are hard to come by, industry and trade associations generally agree that counterfeiting and piracy is a $200 billion- to $250 billion-a-year business that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs.
In the 2006 fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported an 83 percent increase in seizures of goods that violated intellectual property rights. That figure includes almost 15,000 seizures of more than $155 million worth of goods.
Customs officials at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port, the largest in the country, said confiscations of counterfeit goods last month jumped 24 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Levi Strauss and Nike were among the brands seized most frequently at the Los Angeles port, but they are far from the only labels facing a tidal wave of fake goods. Cartier, Chanel, Chloé, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Seven For All Mankind and Rolex, among others, are also among the frequent targets.
Many of the counterfeits that slip through the U.S. ports wind up on street vendor tables, in back-alley "stores," in otherwise legitimate retail locations and online. The same counterfeits seen in Chinatown in Manhattan can be found in countless other places.
Industry experts and luxury brand owners are awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Tiffany & Co. against eBay over online sales of counterfeits. Lawyers presented their final arguments before Thanksgiving and will file their last briefs on Friday. The decision of U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York could have far-reaching effects for the litigation of intellectual property matters, regardless of the outcome.
The lawsuit, filed by Tiffany in 2004, alleged that eBay should be held liable for the sale of counterfeits on its Web site. Brands acknowledge that the Internet and auction sites such as eBay, in particular, are the fastest-growing problem. The approach taken in the Tiffany/eBay case, known as "vicarious liability," has proven effective in prosecuting landlords in Manhattan's Chinatown who owned buildings where counterfeit goods were sold. It also has been used in some cases in markets in China. EBay has argued that it cannot be held responsible for the actions of individual vendors on its site.Trade organizations within the fashion industry and key individuals have taken a strong interest in lobbying the House and Senate to tighten intellectual property laws. The Council of Fashion Designers of America and the group's president, Diane von Furstenberg, are leading this charge.
The Design Piracy Prohibition Act is backed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and eight other legislators. The bill, which would extend copyright protection for fashion designs for three years, is in committee. There is no law that directly protects apparel. Registered trademarks are protected, and it is illegal to sell counterfeits of those, but there is no protection for apparel designs beyond that.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)