COUNTERFEIT CRACKDOWN: British brand Belstaff has won a landmark battle against counterfeiters, following a civil lawsuit in the U.S., WWD has learned.
An announcement is expected later today.
Judges have ordered counterfeiters to pay more than $42 million in damages in the case, which resulted in 676 rogue Web sites being taken down at the same time.
The majority of the counterfeit products were jackets and outerwear, and particularly copies of Belstaff’s leather jackets. Many of the copies were seasons old and designs that are no longer in production, the brand said.
Elena Mauri, head of legal at Belstaff, said the process took less than four months and none of the single top 20 Web sites cited in the case remains in operation today.
“We certainly wouldn’t hesitate to take this legal route in the future, and we will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to any further illicit counterfeiting behavior,” she said.
Gavin Haig, Belstaff’s chief executive officer, said that e-commerce has been a “major driver” for the growth of the brand and, as a result, the company remains aware of the potential negative impact from counterfeiters.
“We want to do everything in our power to protect our loyal customer base and our hard-earned 91-year-old heritage,” he said.
Belstaff said it worked with the U.S. law firm DWT and a brand-protection and intellectual property company called MarkMonitor, which uses technology that can explore a large network of sites. It said the search results for Belstaff uncovered 3,000 Web sites selling counterfeit products. The technology also revealed that more than 800 of the Web sites were managed by one individual based in China.
“This is not the first case of its kind. However, the Belstaff ruling is unusual due to the substantial number of Web sites being handed over to the brand,” said Jerome Sicard, regional manager, southern Europe for MarkMonitor. “Thanks to the proactive action by the Belstaff legal team and the use of the latest online brand protection technology, Belstaff can continue to provide its customers with its sought-after luxury goods through the most reliable and safe online offering.”
The decision was handed down by The Honorable Judge P. Kevin Castel in the U.S. District Court of New York.