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.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye