A 1986 Birkin bag in beige Veau Doblis suede with gold-plated hardware.

PARIS — A Paris court has handed down prison sentences to 23 people in the latest Hermès counterfeit ring case and awarded 10.4 million euros in damages to the French leather goods house, according to Agence France Presse.

Twenty-three people were charged, including nine former Hermès employees, the news agency reported. A 41-year-old man was sentenced, in absentia, to six years in prison and fined 1.5 million euros; a warrant has been issued for his arrest. The individual was accused of being the mastermind of the network, which included a workshop in Hong Kong.

Some 400 handbags were made in clandestine workshops in France and Hong Kong, while 800 came from the house’s employee program, which allows workers to make their own handbags.

A monthlong trial at the end of last year resulted in the judgment related to handbags made between 2008 and 2012, according to the report.

Hundreds of copied Birkin bags, supplied by the international network, were sold in France.

Another individual, age 66, was judged to be the main supplier and sentenced to four years in prison and fined 400,000 euros.

Hermès, along with luxury peers also selling collectible, high-end hand bags, is known for vigorously defending trademark rights. The leather goods specialist’s bags have proven their status as a safe haven investment during the unsettled, pandemic times.  Other recent counterfeit cases have also involved employees.

Hermès did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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