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.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews