August_0802 / Shutterstock.com (Richemont, a parent company of Cartier, pictured)
Richemont International, the parent company of luxury jewellery brands Cartier and Montblanc, has targeted a group of counterfeiters for allegedly setting up online stores to sell fake goods.
In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the luxury brand has targeted a group called The Partnerships.
According to the lawsuit, filed on August 26, the defendant has set up thousands of fake stores on online marketplaces including iOffer and AliExpress and registered domains containing Richemont’s trademarks for its brands to sell “counterfeit products to unknowing customers”.
Richemont claimed that the alleged counterfeiters add to their guise of authenticity by placing MasterCard and PayPal logos on the web pages to demonstrate a perception that customers’ payment details will be secured.
Also, Richemont said that the alleged counterfeiters deploy strategies to enhance their search engine optimisation so that they appear at the top of listings, further adding to a perception that the websites are legitimate.
The Partnerships, according to Richemont, use “multiple fictitious names and addresses to register and operate their massive network of defendant internet stores”. Adding to their anonymity, The Partnerships also use privacy services to conceal their identities and contact information.
Although very little is known about those operating the online stores, the court document said that the registrants transfer revenue generated from sales in the US to Chinese PayPal accounts.
“Plaintiffs have been and continue to be irreparably damaged through consumer confusion, dilution and tarnishment of their valuable trademarks as a result of defendants’ actions and seek injunction and monetary relief,” the court document said.
Richemont has requested the court award $2 million in damages for each infringement of its trademark and $100,000 per infringing registered domain.
A spokesperson for Richemont told TBO that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Richemont; Cartier; Montblanc; counterfeits; trademark infringement; US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; SEO