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Chanel wins multi-million counterfeit lawsuit against Amazon sellers

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - Thanks to the rise of online shopping, luxury fashion houses such as Dior, Prada and Chanel have to be twice and vigilant and work three times as hard to crack down on illegal counterfeiters peddling their goods. However, Chanel must have felt a weight drop off its shoulders this week after emerging as the winner in its multi-million dollar trademark infringement lawsuit against a number of Amazon sellers.

Court rules in favor of Chanel in counterfeit lawsuit against Amazon sellers

A California federal judge ruled in favor of Chanel, entering into a default judgment against approximately 30 sellers who were selling fake-copies of Chanel logoed-items through Amazon.com according to WWD. The French fashion house previously sought 2 million dollars in damages from each seller for each counterfeit trademark, after the seller's digital stores had been suspended from Amazon and requested their stores be permanently removed from Amazon. However, the court slashed this amount to 100,000 dollars leaving the fashion house with some 3 million dollars in damages.

"Chanel is satisfied by the outcome of this case which shows its strong and continuous commitment to the protection of its rights against counterfeiters," said Chanel in a statement to FashionUnited. "We hope this new decision will discourage others from harming our rights and our image. While of course we will continue to pursue this kind of action, we are calling for a reinforced collaboration from the Internet marketplace operators and all other intermediaries involved to take proactive, proportionate and effective measures to ensure traceability and prevent the promotion and distribution of counterfeit goods over the Internet and, in this manner, lower the risks for consumers."

A number of sellers previously tried to avoid litigation this April. One store claimed to have only made 48 dollars from five sales of allegedly counterfeit items, such as mobile phone cases, which they argued had been "mistakenly" uploaded to their Amazon store. The seller apologized to Chanel for the sale and vowed not to sell any Chanel-related items through Amazon again. Another seller denied having sold any fake Chanel products in the first place, while another reports WWD.

But Chanel, who is known to ferociously protecting its trademarks and intellectual property, was not convinced and continued to take legal action. The French fashion house even took one two private investigators to examine the seller's activity on Amazon, according to a court declaration from Lynnette Oka, executive director of Chanel's Internet enforcement. The private investigators are said to have ordered a number of items from the accused sellers Amazon stores which featured one of Chanel's seven logo trademarks which were all counterfeits.

Following the ruling Amazon is set to permanently disable the stores from the accused sellers and remove all images of any trademark infringing products. Amazon will also transfer any funds held in the accounts of the sellers to Chanel. The ruling comes fellow fashion house Gucci goes head to head with fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 in regards to its stripes trademark.

Photo: Chanel Saint-Tropez Boutique, Courtesy of Chanel