Luxury Brands Take Action Against Local Businesses

March 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

Luxury brands, especially Louis Vuitton, have been taking action against counterfeits since the 1800s. In a recent lawsuit, Coach Inc. is taking action against two local businesses in North Carolina for selling counterfeit products. Local authorities received complaints about Hair Villa Salon in Fayetteville due to the fact that they were promoting the availability of counterfeit goods. Secondly, retail boutique Clothing and Such Warehouse was found to be in trademark violation as well, when visited by an undercover agent. According to a recent article, Coach is seeking up to $2 million in damages from the claims for breach to its trademark.

(Image taken from article)

Louis Vuitton and Burberry are also currently seeking damages for breach of trademark and copyright against a Canadian fashion company. The two luxury brands are seeking up to $3 million in damages. Lawyer Michael Manson told Canadian courts earlier this month that this ruling could be the largest anti-counterfeiting judgment in Canadian history.

As luxury brands continue to crackdown on businesses, locals are starting to speak up. Both businesses involved in the Coach Inc. case were brought to the authorities attention through filed complaints. They best thing you can do to help fight fakes is to say something. If you see a store or salon selling a fake, report it.

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New York Post Goes Undercover To Expose NYC Counterfeits

March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

JOHN CRUDELE’S COLUMN OF THE NEW YORK POST TODAY IS AN INTERESTING recap of a recent undercover investigation into the counterfeit industry in New York City. The Post hired a spy to go underground into the warehouses and supply chain of the fake trade in our own backyard.

The undercover agent found tons of fake clothes, handbags and sneakers. He even overheard conversations between wholesalers and customers “talking about how much they liked these enemies of the US.” One man said he liked Hezbollah, the Middle East terrorist organization. It has become increasingly evident that the sales from counterfeits fund terrorist acts. In a recent FANIF blog post, we referenced an article about a man who was charged for selling counterfeits in order to raise funds for this same group.

The Post started the investigation to show consumers all the millions of tax dollars that were being taken away from the city, but uncovered a much deeper issue. Crudele was left wondering, what percentage of the sales from counterfeits ends up in the hands of those wishing to do harm to the U.S.? The problem is not just in New York City. Globally, counterfeiters are using funds for criminal activities, especially for terrorist organizations.

To check out the full video of what The Post spy found, click here.

Operation Broken Hearted: A Valentine’s Day Counterfeit Crackdown

February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

In honor of Valentine’s Day, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement led a huge online seizure of domain names selling counterfeit accessories. The customs agents previously bought counterfeit bracelets, earrings, handbags, rings, sunglasses, wallets and watched from sites and later determined that many of the sites sold fakes. Titled appropriately as Operation Broken Hearted, it was meant to protect consumers from counterfeit Valentine’s Day products. As a result of the investigation, 18 websites’ domain names were seized without any previous warning in order to save valentines from buying fakes for their sweethearts.

“Even on Valentine’s day, American business is under assault from counterfeiters and pirates,” said ICE Director John Morton. “These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs. HSI and our partners at the IPR Center will continue to work together to keep counterfeit products off our streets.”


Operation Broken Hearted was the fourth phase of Operation In Our Sites, an ongoing investigation that started last year. We look forward to seeing the outcome of ICE’s undercover investigations.

Purveyors of ‘fake pharma’ are punished by an international coalition

November 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

The counterfeit pharmaceutical industry was just slipped a mickey, care of the international law enforcement community.

It was banner week for a global coalition combating the sale of sham pharmaceuticals on the Internet. A group of agencies from 24 countries came together for five days in “Operation Pangea II,” an effort to curb web sales of counterfeit and illicit medicines that resulted in several arrests and the seizure of thousands of harmful products.

The weeklong operation, which began on November 16th, dismantled 72 websites, confiscated 167,000 illicit and counterfeit pills, and left 22 individuals under investigation in its wake, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release.

The domestic team was a veritable acronym stew of U.S. organizations, an alphabet-agency soup, with contributions from the FDA, the DEA, ICE, USPIS (Postal Inspection Service), and the CBP (Customs and Border Protection).

On the international side, under the larger umbrella of INTERPOL and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) nimbly-titled International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT, inviting the question: what comes first the underlying org or the clever acronym), law enforcement agencies kicked down firewalls and crammed flash bangs into the inboxes of suspected peddlers.

The effort targeted the channels of sale and distribution for black market digital pill pushing. The week began with a group web surf, trolling for dodgy sites that sold the bitter pills, and identified 751 separate locations that were engaged in illegal activity. The USPIS and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) shook the contents of more than16,000 packages and turned up thousands of antibiotics, steroids, diet pills, lifestyle drugs – those that treat baldness, ED, wrinkles or acne – and others.

“Consumers seeking a better price or wanting to buy drugs without a prescription often do not know that the drugs they order through the Internet are often manufactured in inferior facilities, with substandard or dangerous ingredients, and with a high likelihood that they will not perform as expected, or worse, will cause harm,” said John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE.

Put a tad more bluntly: when you hustle around dodgy sites looking for cheap deals, you most certainly get what you pay for.

Odds are the bunk pills on these sites weren’t manufactured in the most rigorously sterile of settings. The mixing flasks likely carried a little less, if any, of the active ingredient you had hoped to get, or in the worst possible scenario, that you needed. The Petri dishes were caked with a little grime, and though a little fungus may have worked for Alexander Fleming and his discoveryof penicillin, in the remaining history of positive medical developments, the presence of mold isn’t such a good thing.

In the murk of the digital world, it’s easy to behave like deep-sea creatures snapping at the brightest stimuli. Flashy banner ads touting the lowest possible prices for prescription pills make it easy to lose sight of the nefarious nature of a transaction that, were it to occur in the brick and mortar realm, would involve crumpled brown bags passed in still running cars while both parties glance over their shoulders.

Operation Pangea II is an exemplar for future efforts to fight the fake trade. And while multi-pronged, cooperative initiatives yield fantastic results, those with the greatest power to wipe out this epidemic are the would-be purchasers.

Swim to the surface and buy responsibly.

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