Chanel isn’t pleased with its sought-after bags and accessories being such a big part of another company’s business.
The luxury brand is suing popular high-end vintage retailer What Goes Around Comes Around for trademark infringement, claiming it’s not only unintentionally sold counterfeit goods on occasion, but that it’s “gone out of its way to create an association with Chanel,” which does not exist. The brand added that it has “explicitly refused WGACA’s requests to enter into such an agreement,” in a complaint filed Wednesday in New York.
As for the retailer’s alleged sale of counterfeit Chanel products, Chanel said it “recently learned” of a fake handbag and a fake tissue box cover being sold with “false” letters of authenticity. The company pointed out that neither of the products were authorized by Chanel, and it wishes to halt any public confusion on that part of What Goes Around shoppers that Chanel products there have been authenticated by the brand.
“Chanel will not tolerate any parties who falsely imply a relationship or partnership with Chanel, as these deceptive practices are grossly misleading to customers, and damaging to Chanel’s hard-earned brand reputation,” a company spokeswoman said.
Frank Bober, vice chairman of What Goes Around, denied Chanel’s claims outright.
“We assure you that nothing can be further from the truth,” Bober said. “We believe the allegations are completely unfounded and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”
Chanel is also taking issue with What Goes Around’s sale of other items, like Chanel monogrammed boxes and trays that the brand has never authorized for sale. All of this, along with the retailer’s allegedly “extensive” use of Chanel’s products and brand name in its marketing, is allegedly tantamount to trademark infringement, unfair competition and false endorsement, and Chanel is seeking up to $2 million for each alleged instance.
While trademark litigation can be long and most often ends in some type of settlement, should this case make it to the damages stage, the amount owed could be significant, even with courts’ tendency to greatly reduce initial requests.
What Goes Around operates a wholesale business, along with its own retail and e-commerce businesses, and indeed does sell a large amount of vintage Chanel products and often uses Chanel trademarks and past advertising campaign images for its social media and its web site. Currently on its site there are about 400 Chanel products on offer, from accessories to apparel.
“This complaint demonstrates Chanel’s strong and unwavering commitment to protecting its brand reputation and ensuring that consumers seeking to purchase Chanel products from unauthorized distribution channels will not be deceived or mislead by false marketing or advertising efforts which imply that anyone other than Chanel can guarantee the authenticity of Chanel products,” the company spokeswoman added.
Chanel is a fierce protector of its trademarks and brand image and has a lot of practice in this type of litigation. Beyond going after counterfeiters and the shifty online web sites and marketplaces that sell fake goods, it doesn’t stand for any misuse of its likeness. Last year it even sued an independent Michigan retailer to stop it doing business as “Shanel.”
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