In a lawsuit Tuesday in Connecticut federal court, Michael Kors alleged that The Boulevard Flea Market in New Haven, Conn., was notorious as a “black market for illegal products,” allegedly including counterfeit products like wallets and handbags bearing the Michael Kors “MK” logo, or similar variations.
The flea market had even been subject to a raid in November 2013 by the New Haven Police Department over the sale of counterfeits, the company said. In that raid, the police had seized more than 1,100 handbags and several wallets, according to the suit.
“While luxury brands spend a significant amount of time policing online flea markets, such as eBay, counterfeiters have had an easier and more profitable time peddling their illicit wares at old-fashioned swap meets or flea markets,” the company wrote in the suit.
The suit targeted C.G.C. Enterprises Inc., which runs the flea market, and landlord Digsby Taylor & Hobbes LLC. It claims that even though Michael Kors has alerted them “numerous” times in recent years, they’ve ignored the sale of counterfeits at the market since at least 2013.
C.G.C. owner Charles Cheslock and Digsby owner Richard Lebov, both of whom are also named as defendants in the complaint, were not available for comment Thursday.
Michael Kors said its own investigation at the flea market over the past year found hundreds of counterfeits for sale, including fake Michael Kors handbags, perfumes, bags and shoes, according to the complaint.
Michael Kors’ argument is that even if flea market owners aren’t themselves selling the alleged counterfeits, they must ensure that vendors selling on their premises follow the law. For instance, landlords can evict tenants for illegal activities such as selling counterfeits, the suit argued.
The flea market’s owner and landlord’s apparent disengagement from its vendors activities, despite what Michael Kors describes as the flea market’s alleged reputation for selling fakes, gives impunity to such sales, the suit argues.