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French Fashion House Hermès Wins Suit Against eBay

June 09, 2008 04:25 PM
by Anne Szustek
The online auction site lost the first of many legal battles with the fashion industry over the trade of counterfeit goods.

30-Second Summary

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The luxury goods label, known for such signature items as the oft out-of-reach Birkin bag, won $30,000 in damages from eBay and sellers over auctions in 2006 of two counterfeit Hermès bags.

The ruling, announced on June 4 at a court in the French city of Troyes, also required that eBay run a statement about the court case on its French operations’ home page for three months. The court said that both the site and the sellers were guilty of counterfeiting “by selling Hermès bags and branded accessories on the eBay.fr site and by failing to act within their powers to prevent reprehensible use of the site.”

Besides the infringement on intellectual property laws, the clandestine nature of the counterfeit fashion industry lends itself to supporting other illegal activities.

Valerie Salembier, senior vice president of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, said, “When women learn that this money funds child labor, terrorist organizations and drug cartels, they say, ‘not me.’”

Fashion fakes constitute a $600 billion worldwide industry. Children as young as eight are chained to workstations, forced to sew knockoff wallets. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly alluded that fashion counterfeiting rings helped fund the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

The advent of e-retail has only exacerbated the fashion industry’s struggle against fakes. Nikolay Livadkin, the anti-counterfeiting manager at Louis Vuitton, believes online transactions account for about 20 to 30 percent of trade in counterfeit goods.

Pushing the battle against fakes further uphill is a popular belief that they level the fashion playing field. A study by U.K.-based law firm Davenport Lyons showed that 68 percent of those polled said that buying counterfeit items should not be a crime.

Headline Link: ‘Hermès Beats eBay in Counterfeit Case’

Video: ‘Fakes are Never in Fashion’

Background: Other design house struggles against counterfeiting

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Fake Luxury Goods Shift into Social Acceptance; But Who Benefits?’

Reference: FindingDulcinea’s Web Guides to Fashion, Online Selling

Related Topics: eBay

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