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Volkswagen and Audi filed their complaint at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on Friday, September 28.
The car makers accused the unknown defendants of trading upon their reputation and goodwill by selling unauthorised and unlicensed counterfeit products, including vehicle parts and accessories, which feature the Volkswagen and Audi trademarks.
Volkswagen and Audi products are sold through licensed dealerships and their respective websites, and have “long been among the most popular vehicles, vehicle parts, and accessories in the world”, the complaint said.
The automakers own “numerous” word and figurative trademarks for automobiles, parts, accessories, and merchandise.
For example, ‘Volkswagen’ (2,835,662) is registered in classes 11 and 12 to cover vehicle parts and accessories. A figurative mark depicting a ‘VW’ in a circle (1,883,332) is registered in the same classes.
Some of Audi’s trademarks are also registered in classes 11 and 12. They include word marks such as ‘Audi’ (4,995,364), and figurative marks which feature the word ‘Audi’ next to the automaker’s four-circle logo (4,284,786).
According to the complaint, the defendants operate “fully interactive, commercial internet stores” through which US consumers can purchase counterfeit products that feature “versions” of Volkswagen’s and Audi’s trademarks.
The stores appear to be selling genuine Volkswagen and Audi products, but are actually selling counterfeit items to unknowing consumers, the automakers claimed.
Volkswagen and Audi explained that the defendant internet stores have taken steps to conceal their identities and the full scope of the counterfeiting operation.
The automakers said that they have been and will continue to be irreparably damaged as a result of the consumer confusion, trademark dilution, and trademark tarnishment caused by the counterfeiters.
Because of the damage, Volkswagen and Audi have asked the court to enjoin and restrain the defendants from continuing their infringing activities.
They are also seeking an account of profits gained by the defendants as a result of the infringement and triple damages, or alternatively $2 million in damages for every instance of counterfeiting.
This is not the first time that Volkswagen and Audi have taken action against online counterfeiters. Earlier this year, they filed a similar complaint at the same court in Illinois in an effort to protect the fame and recognition associated with their trademarks.
Volkswagen, Audi, counterfeit, fakes, vehicle parts, trademark infringement, internet stores, consumer confusion, trademark dilution, trademark tarnishment