In what is one of the largest anti-counterfeit and cybersquatting cases in the history of fashion, designer Alexander Wang has been awarded 90 million dollars in damages in a landmark legal dispute. Wang was the victim of cybersquatting, which saw 459 domain websites illegally selling fake goods under his name.
It is the first counterfeit case that Wang has pursued and won, according to WWD, however it is unlikely the designer will ever be able to recover the damages since the owners of the domain names are almost impossible to trace.
“The court system regularly awards very large amounts for the symbolic significance, as a means of deterring other individuals and parties. In other words, Alexander Wang is unlikely to receive 90 million dollars,” a spokesman for the company told WWD.
Counterfeit websites sell a host of fake luxury products, and Wang is no stranger to having his name used to sell fraudulent goods. While bags and accessories are the mainstay categories, clothing and footwear are also copied and sold under fake designer names. Two websites in particular, alexanderwangshoessale.com, cheapalexanderwangbags.com, illegally sold fake items.
Intellectual property rights for brands require constant vigilance
In a statement, Dennis Wang, chief principal officer of Alexander Wang Inc., said, “The company takes its intellectual property rights very seriously. Protecting our brand requires maintaining constant vigilance on a global scale as well as taking proactive measures such as sending cease and desist orders directly to domestic and foreign counterfeiters as well as contacting web site servers that host counterfeit sites. The creativity and originality of our designs are the foundation upon which the company is based.
“Since the launch of the brand in 2005, we have collectively devoted an incalculable amount of resources — time, money, and hard work — toward creating a trademark that is distinctive and uniquely our own. I am very pleased that the court recognized this and decided in our favor,” he added.
One way that designers can fight counterfeiters is by registering their trademarks in order to protect their brands. In the US, federal registration allows companies to enforce their trademarks anywhere in the United States and provides constructive notice to the public of its claim of ownership of the marks.
In addition to protecting intellectual property rights brands should periodically monitor the sales of goods, both online and by retailers, to verify that the products being sold are, in fact, genuine products. Three simple factors to examine include the price, the packaging, and the location where the product is being sold. If shipping comes from mainland China, for example, it is cause for alarm bells to go off.
Photo credit: Alexander Wang Facebook