Chanel continues fightback against fakes
Chanel has brought a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement against a vintage store in New York, accusing the retailer of “piggybacking” on the reputation of luxury brands.
French fashion brand Chanel filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, March 14.
The French brand accused What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA) of trademark infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition.
Founded in New York in 1993, WGACA is a global dealer of second-hand luxury vintage clothing and accessories. WGACA has multiple shops and also operates an online store, which ships to customers all over the world.
Chanel claimed that the shop has been selling counterfeit Chanel products in store and online, as well as falsely advertising itself as a partner of the brand, “grossly misleading” customers into falsely believing that a relationship or affiliation between Chanel and WGACA exists.
By making use of the Chanel brand in marketing activities, including the use of Chanel’s trademarks online through social media hashtags such as “our #WGACAChanel”, the vintage store has fostered “misleading statements” about its relationship with Chanel to consumers worldwide.
Chanel said it had “explicitly refused” requests made by WGACA to enter into a partnership agreement, but that the shop has “gone out of its way to create an association” with the fashion brand.
WGACA has also advertised Chanel items as “vintage” when they are less than 20 years old, claimed Chanel, noting that the Federal Trade Commission defines “vintage” collectibles as being at least 50 years old.
The claim further alleged that WGACA is selling other items, such as counterfeit Chanel-branded boxes and handbags, with a false letter of authenticity.
Chanel said that consumers who purchase the items, which are purported to be authentic by the vintage store’s “Authenticity Guaranteed” sign, are misled into believing that Chanel has authenticated the item rather than WGACA.
As the store has sold at least one counterfeit handbag, such “impliedly false and misleading” guarantees of authenticity are damaging to the goodwill that Chanel has developed, said the brand.
The French designer is seeking injunctive relief and damages, in addition to an accounting of sales and profits from the Chanel goods sold by WGACA.
WGACA hit back at the accusations in a statement. The vintage shop said that Chanel's claims are "unfounded" and that it does not sell counterfeit items. According to WGACA, Chanel's complaint is evidence of "a desire to control the after-market for their products".
"We have never misled anyone into believing we have any type of relationship with Chanel or that the merchandise we sell is anything but authentic and valuable," the release concluded.
Chanel has consistently fought back against fakes. Last year, 30 sellers on Amazon.com were ordered to pay the French designer nearly $3 million in damages for selling counterfeit Chanel products.
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