Off-White’s popularity keeps growing — and so does the number of its imitators.
Virgil Abloh’s five-year-old luxury streetwear brand is going after 161 merchants operating on Wish.com, an e-commerce platform in the vein of Amazon, for allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise originating from China making use of its trademarked stripe and arrow designs, as well as the Off-White name, according to a lawsuit in New York federal court unsealed last week.
Off-White is asking the court for $2 million in damages for each instance of alleged infringement, along with a preliminary injunction that would see all accused sellers unable to continue operating on Wish during litigation. The damage amount is standard in infringement complaints like this, and are often reduced drastically by judges.
Although not a defendant in the suit, Wish, under its corporate name ContextLogic Inc., is urging the court to temper Off-White’s injunction request and partially lift the temporary restraining order already imposed on the sellers, arguing it creates “undue restraints on non-infringing conduct” on the platform. The company also claimed that a formal injunction would have a “significant negative impact” on its business and Wish users.
ContextLogic brand protection manager Maral Behnam-Garcia told the court that Wish operates a program that allows brands to register and identify infringing goods being sold and request that the listings be removed, something he claims Off-White never did.
At any rate, since the filing of the lawsuit, Behnam-Garcia said the product posts identified by Off-White as infringing, one for each of the 161 defendants, have been taken down. Moreover, ContextLogic looked into the activity of each accused seller and identified additional counterfeit Off-White products and it took down those posts, too.
The company also compiled a full report on the activity of the sellers, finding they collectively have sold more than $41 million worth of product through Wish in their time on the platform and that at least $1.18 million of those sales were likely counterfeit Off-White merchandise.
However, ContextLogic said more than one million U.S. shoppers have purchased product from the defendant sellers that purportedly do not have anything to do with Off-White’s trademarks, as have an additional 1.8 million users outside the U.S. The company did not say whether any of the products not related to Off-White appeared to be counterfeits of other brands, but it did reveal that 36 of the 161 accused sellers have been suspended from Wish “based on the level of product they offered on the Wish trading platform that allegedly infringed Off-White’s intellectual property rights.”
But this may not be enough for Off-White.
Abloh, who was recently tapped by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to lead men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, said in a declaration filed with the court that Off-White’s success is “due to its use of the highest-quality materials and processes” and the “word-of-mouth buzz that its consumers have generated.” The counterfeits also have allegedly caused lost profits, damaged the “inherent value” of Off-White’s marks and even damaged the brand’s relationships with retailers and shoppers, along with its “ability to attract new customers,” not least due to the difference in price between the real and counterfeit products.
Off-White’s denim jacket with its stripe logo featured on the back retails for $765 and a copycat version selling on Wish was listed for $41, while an alleged copy of its $540 long-sleeve arrow design cotton shirt sells for $22.
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