Louis Vuitton is pretty consistent and pretty aggressive in policing its trademark, and rightfully so, given the value of its truly iconic intellectual property and the fact that it is the trademark owner's duty to police its mark to ensure that it does not become generic and thus, useless. This week, the Paris-based design house won a $1.6 million judgment in a Miami federal court, stemming from a recent case against a group of online sellers hawking counterfeit goods. The vast majority of the domains were registered under Chinese names, and because there was no Return of Service (written confirmation under oath by a process server declaring that there was service of legal documents, such as a summons and complaint, to the defendants), a default judgment was entered. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke ordered the immediate seizure of nearly 70 different domain names, which were selling various types of counterfeit merchandise, as well as nearly $2 million in damages. In order to attain maybe small portion of the judgment amount, Cooke granted orders for PayPal to freeze and turn over funds in accounts associated with the various website at issue.
In case you've been wondering why so many trademark counterfeiting cases have been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, here's why ... Fort Lauderdale-based attorney, Stephen Gaffigan, who represented Louis Vuitton in this case, has become the go-to lawyer for luxury design houses fighting online counterfeit sales. Gaffigan has also represented Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and even Abercrombie & Fitch and Adidas, in an outside counsel capacity. Hence, the regular filing of this type of cases in Gaffigan's home court.