Outerwear brand Moose Knuckles has secured a $52 million verdict in a federal lawsuit against more than two dozen Chinese operators of 33 “rogue” web sites selling counterfeit merchandise.
The web sites operated under domain names like “mooseknuckesoutletonline” and “mooseknucklesca,” the company said, while selling knockoffs of Moose Knuckles apparel, including its popular range of parkas and down jackets, which retail for between $500 and $1,200.
Each of the 26 defendants found to be operating one or more of the “rogue” web sites was ordered to pay $2 million in damages.
Moose Knuckles chief executive officer Noah Stern said the judgment has “a pivotal role” in the company’s anticounterfeiting strategy and will aide a “more effective and efficient action against online counterfeiters moving forward.”
“Online counterfeiting through rogue web sites is of particular concern to our customers because the sites look authentic and may offer products at only a slight discount from our suggested retail price,” said Ayal Twik, president of Moose International Inc. “These sites seem so much more credible than a vendor at a flea market. Usually, it’s not until the jacket arrives in the mail that our customers see the poor quality of the product and realize they have been cheated.”
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. of Chicago said in his final judgment last week that the fake web sites specifically targeted North American consumers, giving the court jurisdiction over web sites technically based in China, and that the goods being sold clearly infringed on Moose Knuckles’ registered trademarks.
He went on to find the defendants liable for willful trademark infringement and counterfeiting, “cybersquatting” through use of Moose Knuckles in domain names and for violations of Illinois deceptive trade laws.
The domain names were ordered disabled and to be transferred by their registrars back to Moose Knuckles and any infringing products are to be returned to the company.
Dow also ordered any funds maintained by any PayPal accounts held by the fake web sites to be released to Moose Knuckles as “partial payment” of the full $52 million damages award.
While Dow said in his order that the defending parties had been served a copy of Moose Knuckles’ December complaint and were given adequate notice of the proceedings, none of the defendants participated in the litigation, according to court records.