A California federal judge on Friday sided with the luxury house in entering a default judgment against about 30 sellers of counterfeit Chanel-logoed products that had been operating through Amazon.com.
While Chanel had initially sought $2 million from each seller-defendant for every knock-off item they sold, the court whittled that number down to $100,000, leaving Chanel to collect somewhere around $3 million as a result of the decision.
Amazon now must disable the defending stores and take down images of any infringing product. Amazon Payments is this week supposed to transfer funds held in the accounts of the sellers to Chanel. Although details of the account holdings are not available, the totals are unlikely to equal the amount of damages.
A few seller defendants attempted in April to escape the litigation. One store said it had earned only $48 from five sales of allegedly infringing goods, like a logo phone case, which it claimed had been “mistakenly” uploaded to the site in the first place.
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.
But the case has not been closed in its entirety. One seller defendant, identified as “Gujjsso,” has hired counsel and is apparently pushing back against Chanel’s allegations.
A representative of Chanel and counsel for the remaining seller defendant could not be reached for comment.
Chanel, long a fierce protector of its intellectual property, launched the suit in early April, accusing the Amazon sellers of actively selling a range of counterfeit Chanel products, such as handbags, T-shirts and cell-phone covers emblazoned with the brand name.
The house even hired two private investigators to look into the sellers’ Amazon activity, according to a court declaration by Lynnette Oka, Chanel’s longtime executive director of Internet enforcement.
Oka said at the time the investigators had purchased products from the defendant sellers’ Amazon stores containing “at least one” of Chanel’s seven logo trademarks, which cover a range of apparel and accessories, that were found to be counterfeit.
Chanel also took issue with the sellers’ use of the brand name as part of search engine optimization strategy, which the company said amounted to illegal and unfair competition.
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