Both are back in court this week fighting against a string of online operations selling products with various imitations of their well-known — and well-trademarked — names and logos: interlocking “Cs” for Chanel and three stripe designs for Adidas, as well as protected designs used for its affiliate Reebok.
Together, Chanel and Adidas are seeking $249 million in damages in three lawsuits.
Adidas is going after more than 100 web sites, offering an array of fake products made in the image of genuine goods, including Stella McCartney and Yeezy by Kanye West shoes. The web sites also incorporate Adidas’ name and marks in online descriptions and web addresses.
The web sites are described by Adidas as “commercial” and “fully interactive” and operated by entities aware of the company’s various trademarks and rights.
Given the willfulness of the alleged counterfeiting, Adidas is seeking a total of $157 million in damages from the sellers, and is looking for a swift end to the lawsuit launched in June with a Thursday push for a default judgment in its favor.
Adidas told a Florida federal court that it’s clear the sellers are participating in willful copyright infringement, which they have all admitted to by failing to respond to the allegations, save for minejerseys.com, which has denied selling counterfeit Adidas products.
Minejerseys advertises itself as an international retailer of “affordable soccer jerseys,” but keywords apparent on it web site describe them as “cheap” and “replica.”
While Adidas is likely to win its case against the other sites given their silence, which will include gaining control over all their domain names and any proceeds, collecting on any monetary judgment from essentially unknown operators may prove a challenge.
Chanel is going after two groups of sellers that operate their stores on Amazon, which has a zero tolerance policy toward counterfeits and has the power to suspend sales and sellers’ accounts.
While Chanel’s new lawsuits accuse a total of 46 Amazon sellers of peddling knock-off goods, it’s probably looking at a similar whittling down of its current demand for $2 million from each infringer, totaling $92 million.
Representatives of neither company could be reached for comment.
Infringement cases like this, however, generally are not about collecting damages, but more about protecting a brand’s image and controlling access to goods, especially for luxury power players like Chanel.
Chanel and Adidas are two of the fiercest protectors of their intellectual property and frequently take to the courts to enforce their rights – and relatively anonymous online counterfeiters aren’t the only target of their efforts.
Chanel last month was able to block a trademark depicting horizontal interlocking “S” shapes in Europe due to its similarity to the company’s famous interlocking “C” logo.
Adidas is also currently fighting Skechers for copying two sneaker styles, including its popular Stan Smith, and Forever 21 for allegedly using its trademarked three-stripe design on a range of apparel.
Forever 21 allegedly sold “repurposed” Adidas goods on its web site, including women’s athletic pants and shorts, which Adidas says are simply counterfeit merchandise.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated last year that worldwide trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is worth $461 billion annually, with footwear and apparel at the top of the list.
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