A federal judge in Florida on Wednesday handed the Italian-bred, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned luxury house a default judgment against 39 web sites selling Fendi knockoffs and ordered each to pay $1 million in damages for illegally using the brand’s trademarks.
Fendi had sought maximum damages of $2 million for each counterfeit product bearing its marks, which could have easily reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars depending on the number of products identified. But the judge said in his order that the damages award “is just.”
“The award should be sufficient to deter defendants and others from continuing to counterfeit or otherwise infringe plaintiff’s trademarks, compensate plaintiff and punish defendants,” the judge added.
As is usual with trademark cases against counterfeit sellers operating through a marketplace, Amazon and eBay, which were not defendants in the lawsuit, were ordered to terminate all of the defending sellers’ accounts and turn over any available goods and account funds to Fendi.
Several of the defendants appear to be individual sellers operating Amazon and eBay stores under their names, while many others appear to be foreign counterfeit operations.
A representative of Fendi could not be reached for comment.
Fendi launched the case in late May, claiming the availability of counterfeits was diluting its brand and confusing consumers.
The company tightened its case by hiring a private investigator to investigate the sellers and purchase at least one knockoff Fendi item from each of the defendants’ stores. Some of the sellers even blurred out or altered images on their sites containing the Fendi Marks, according to court documents.
Fendi is the latest in a string of high-profile brands to head to court to combat counterfeiters, but collecting damages from defendants, many of which operate from outside the U.S., is difficult, if not impossible.
In a recent lawsuit against an alleged Chinese collective selling fake Tag Heuer watches, LVMH said counterfeiters “go to great lengths” to hide their identities and as soon as they are notified of legal action, they tend to move funds from PayPal accounts to offshore bank accounts.
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