Fashion fakes: Belstaff wins unprecedented victory
Belstaff won an unprecedented judicial victory in an online counterfeiting ruling. Four months ago the British luxury brand, owned by German group JAB Luxury, filed a civil lawsuit in the US courts against hundreds of websites that usurped its trademark and sold counterfeit Belstaff products.
Belstaff was awarded the ruling, as the judges sentenced the defendants to pay over $42 million in damages and interest, while 676 pirate websites were closed down.
The brand was assisted in the proceedings by MarkMonitor, a specialist in online brand protection. MarkMonitor, Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Property & Science division, set up a programme allowing surveillance over different markets and websites that sold counterfeit Belstaff goods.
MarkMonitor focused both on the domain names and on the articles on sale. In a press release, the company stated that in the course of the investigation it discovered 3,000 websites selling counterfeit products, 800 of which were managed by one single individual domiciled in China.
The majority of counterfeit products were jackets, especially the leather models that are Belstaff's most popular items, and outerwear. They all dated from a few seasons ago and weren't produced any longer by the brand.
"Other major luxury brands have already benefited from US anti-imitation laws, but we think our case is emblematic given the unprecedented number of websites that were closed down simultaneously. We intend to continue pursuing a zero tolerance policy against any instance of counterfeiting", Elena Mauri, Belstaff's head of legal affairs, has commented.
According to forecasts by consultancy firm McKinsey, e-commerce is expected to generate 18% of worldwide luxury goods sales between now and 2025. This will increasingly expose fashion labels to the risk of imitation.
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