Round up: This Week In Anti-Counterfeiting

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The week started off with the hearing for the IDPPPA (ID3PA). Witnesses included Lazaro Hernandez, designer for Proenza Schouler, Jeannie Suk, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Christopher Sprigman, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law and finally Kurt Courtney, Manager of government relations at the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

Memorable quotes during the hearing included:

  • “We are helpless against copyist who prey on our ideas. Fashion design is intellectual property that deserves protection.” -Lazaro Hernandez
  •  “We need to stop knockoffs which directly undermine the market for the original designs.” -Jeannie Suk
  •  “[The IDPPPA] contains protections to ensure designers can seek inspiration & harness fashion trends w/out frivolous lawsuits.” -Kurt Courtney

Later in the week, the fortunate ones who were fast enough to scoop up a CFDA/eBay “Can’t Fake Fashion” tote posted on their blogs about their one-of-a-kind purchase. The lucky ones include: BryanBoy, Chi City Fashion and Founder of e Drop-Off, Corri McFadden. Some bought the simple tote and designed it themselves. Check one out here.

No matter what designers do, Forever21 seems to keeps copying their products. Feral Childe is the newest victim of Forever21 and this week it was announced that they are suing the retail giant for copyright-infringement.

For more news on counterfeits and luxury fashion, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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This Week In IP: The CFDA Goes to Washington & Counterfeit Military Parts

June 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

This week has been a busy one in the fight against counterfeits. CFDA President, Diane Von Furstenberg and CFDA Executive Director, Steven Kolb took a trip to Washington to speak to Congress about the importance of design protection. (The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act in December). Steven Kolb posted to twitter as Furstenberg spoke to legislators: “We need to value creativity. Not having protection is embarrassing — @dvf.”

(Image From Steven Kolb’s Tumblr of Furstenberg, Kolb & Rep. Nancy Pelosi)

Another big story to hit the press this week was the probe into counterfeit military parts that have been sold to the Unites States government from China. The Senate Armed Services committee began to investigate counterfeits in March, but the Chinese have refused to provide Visas to investigators trying to locate the source of the counterfeits. According to a recent article on Bloomberg.com, the DCIS also is investigating over 200 allegations of substandard or non-conforming parts that do not meet military specifications. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin and Arizona Senator John McCain sent letters to the Chinese consulate in Washington to request the visas, but Chinese officials had asked them to postpone the investigators’ trip.

Tory Burch: A Big Win for Fashion in the Fight Against Fakes

June 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

Today was a big win in the fight against fake designer products. Initially reported by WWD, Tory Burch has won a $164 million lawsuit against over 230 websites who have been cybersquatting and selling counterfeit Tory Burch products online. The term cybersquatting refers to a website who uses a designer or brand’s name in the domain name (URL) in order to deceive shoppers into believing their site sells legitimate merchandise.

Burch spoke out against fakes to Women’s Wear Daily saying, “Many people think that buying a fake product is harmless, but counterfeiting is estimated to result in annual losses of over $20 billion to American companies.”

And that is just in the United States. Counterfeiting is a global problem that effects more than just corporations, brands and designers. Besides contributing to criminal acts, counterfeits deprive jobs from hard working citizens as well as contribute to down economies.

Key numbers to know:

  • Estimated $600 Billion annual sales in counterfeit products worldwide
  • $512 Billion global sales lost to counterfeit goods
  • $1 Billion estimated annual loss in New York City tax revenues due to counterfeiting
  • 750,000 jobs lost due to intellectual property theft in the United States

It could be seen this morning that the fight against fakes is only going to get stronger. Executive Director of the CFDA, Steven Kolb, who was also quoted in the WWD article, tweeted this morning:

@StevenKolb  “#fightBack. Major. Good job @toryburch! in winning $164M cybersquatting Suit – WWD.com http://t.co/jFlogxT @womensweardaily.”

To which Burch responded: @ToryBurch “Just starting!”

Protect IP Act: Will It Pass?

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Senate Judiciary Committee is voting on the Protect IP Act today, but will it pass? Outlined in the latest FANIF blog post, Senator Patrick Leahy reintroduced Protect IP about two weeks ago. Leahy is confident the bill will pass as AdWeek reports 12 of the committee’s 18 members are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Supporters of the bill include Microsoft, whose counsel Brad Smith, speaks out about their support of the potential new law on their blog:

“Microsoft is a company built on innovation and its protection through intellectual property rights, and we are committed to helping ensure that copyright is respected in the online environment. We look forward to working with others as this bill advances toward enactment.”

Since the beginning of the reinstated bill, Google has been very vocal about not backing the legislation. Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, spoke out saying the bill could set a “disastrous precedent” for freedom of speech. “I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems,” he said. “So, ‘let’s whack off the DNS’ (domain name systems). Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say ‘I don’t like free speech so I’ll whack off all those DNSs’ – that country would be China.

Twitter is a buzz about the bill tweeting with hashtag #ProtectIP:

“@UnderBill Censorship: the slipperiest slope? #protectip
“@marauderz I feel that Google is contesting the #protectip act because it can endanger Google Music.”
“@FashionCloture How will Google’s opposition affect #ProtectIP Act?
“@PRGPatentLaw@neverfakes @FashionCloture People seem to be nervous about any government authority to shut down websites, even sites with illegal content.”
“@SimoneBtrfly It’s fab the amount of support they’re getting!”

We are interested in the outcome of the vote today and its opposition’s efforts to stop the legislation.

Say Hello To The “PROTECT IP” Act

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Image Taken From Wired.com)

Last week Senator Leahy introduced his revision to the controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The bill now stands in its new form, the PROTECT IP Act, short for “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property.” According to Wired.com, “under the new proposal, search engines, internet providers, credit card companies, and ad networks would all have cut off access to foreign “rogue sites”– and such court orders would not be limited to the government. Private rightsholders could go to court and target foreign domains, too.”

What we are most particularly interested in is the effect on search engines, such as our previous discussions surrounding Google AdWords. The PROTECT IP Act  “responds to concerns raised that search engines are part of the ecosystem that directs Internet user traffic and therefore should be part of the solution.” We agree, Google must help in being part of the solution.

Some key points of the PROTECT IP Act via Wired:

  • The bill is an attempt to deal with foreign sites which can be difficult for US enforcement to reach.
  • It does provide a more limited definition of sites “dedicated to infringing activities.”
  • Ad networks and payment processors will be protected if they “voluntarily cease doing business with infringing websites, outside of any court ordered action.”
  • Copyright and trademark holders are allowed to seek court orders directly, though these orders would only apply to payment processors and advertising networks (not to ISPs or search engines).
  • A search engine can simply cut off advertising for that reason and be immunized under the law.
  • Encourages everyone—domain name registries, search engines, payment processors, and ad networks—to cut off access to infringing sites that “endanger the public health.” That is, online pharmacies (which are often hotbeds of counterfeiting).

What are your thoughts on the new bill? Do you think it will further the government’s attempts to take down foreign rouge websites selling counterfeits?

The Backlash Against Fining New Yorkers

May 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

New York City has been very vocal about the new bill introduced by Councilwoman Margaret Chin that could fine shoppers up to $1,000 if they are caught buying a fake. The bill even includes possible jail time. Although there has been some backlash from the public, The Huffington Post reported that Chin has no intention of backing down. The idea behind the bill was to stop the demand for counterfeit designer goods, but many feel it is wrong to punish consumers. amNY also ran an article about how the bill has potentially started a “class war.” One man was quoted saying, “People who can’t afford high-status items are made to feel inferior, and no one wants to feel bad.”

We have seen a law like this before that has been put into place successfully. France is known for its zero tolerance law against fakes, fining violators up to €300,000 and threatening imprisonment. Here are examples of a few advertisements that the French Customs and Comité Colbert have put together to warn consumers about what they are in for if they buy a fake:


Our followers on Facebook and Twitter have also been speaking about the issue. Here is what they had to say:

Rashida M. – “I think it’s better to attack the people manufacturing the goods rather than the buyers some may not be aware of the goods are fraudulent… Seems un american to me…”

Erin S. – “We need more of that everywhere. I see so many fakes being carried around by women, it’s simply awful.”

@intetvalentos – “It’s not really the buyers that we should blame, it’s those people who create the demand for fake stuff. As long as it’s available in the market, people will buy it.”

@BAFFLEDblog “Stealing is stealing & infringing on someone’s rights is never OK. Fashion or not-there must be punishments to deter all crimes”

What are your thoughts on the issue?

Counterfeit Buyers Beware

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Image taken from NY Post article)

According to a recent article in the NY Post this week, Councilwoman Margaret Chin is proposing a new bill to fine those who buy counterfeits up to $1,000. Chin’s district happens to be Chinatown, where people still flock to buy fake products.

“People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand,” said Chin. “The punishment might seem draconian, but it’s necessary to curb the growing problem.”

The bill already has five co-sponsors and she has gained much supported for her fellow colleagues; all of whom are aware of the criminal activities associated with counterfeit goods. One manager of a Chinatown boutique said she supports the bill. “It’s wrong to sell [fake goods]. I don’t like people coming in here assuming we also sell fake stuff.”

The NY Post reports that if the bill is passed, some NYC law enforcement have expressed that the law would be hard to enforce. So we ask you, is it a good idea to penalize shoppers for buying fakes? Do you think this law would actually be enforced by officials?

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