The Gucci windows at Saks.

Gucci America Inc. wants to send a message.

The oft-imitated designer brand sued more than three dozen web sites it accused of selling knock-off shoes, accessories and clothes, and of appropriating its brand name. 

The web sites siphon off customer traffic from Gucci and essentially operate as part of a black market network for fake designer products, according to the brand’s complaint filed Thursday in Florida federal court. 

Gucci said in the suit that it spends “significant monetary resources” to ward off counterfeiters, and asked for millions in statutory damages at a rate of $2 million for each counterfeit item the web sites sold.  

“The exponential growth of counterfeiting over the Internet has created an environment that requires companies, such as Gucci, to file a large number of lawsuits, often it later turns out, against the same individuals and groups, in order to protect both consumers and itself from the ill effects of confusion and the erosion of the goodwill associated with the Gucci brand,” the company said in the suit. 

The web sites at issue are registered in the U.S. and overseas, and run by unknown businesses, according to the complaint. Some of the sites named in the suit could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.  

Gucci, which sued the defendants for various trademark violations under the Lanham Act, also sought a restraining order and injunctions to block the companies from selling alleged counterfeit Gucci products. 

The products in question look “virtually identical” to real Gucci products, but are of different quality, the brand argued in the suit, invoking a typical argument by companies trying to enforce their trademarks by making the case that knockoffs confuse customers and undermine their brand. 

“If defendants’ counterfeiting and infringing, cybersquatting and unfairly competitive activities, and their illegal marketplace enterprise, are not preliminarily and permanently enjoined by this court, Gucci and the consuming public will continue to be harmed,” Gucci said in the suit. 

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